Rishi Sunak’s closest aides among most vocal critics of fuel duty hike

HIKING fuel duty would be a hammer blow to "not just motorists but their families" a Treasury minister once declared.

As Chancellor Rishi Sunak eyes the first rise in a decade of the hated levy at next month's Budget, The Sun can reveal his closest lieutenants used to be the most vocal critics of the tax.

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Kemi Badenoch said in 2018 that "continuing the freeze will help keep bills and the overall cost of living low."

While a backbencher, Ms Badenoch also signed a letter organised by Fair Fuel UK urging the Treasury not to unfreeze fuel duty as part of the Sun’s Keep It Down campaign.

It warned: "Filling up at the pumps remains a critical factor that shapes consumer spending and business costs.”

Meanwhile the now Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman boasted of his campaigning work on keeping fuel duty frozen as a key reason for voters to re-elect him in 2015.

He told his local paper it was one his most successful achievements as an MP.

And in 2011 he told the Commons, fuel duty rises would have a “direct impact on the well-being of my constituents.”

Now the pair are serving in the Treasury that has hinted they could slap a further 5p of tax on the 58p levy in a bid to fill the Covid budget blackhole.

Around 75,000 hard hit motorists who support Fair Fuel UK are expected to contact the Chancellor this week to urge him not to hike fuel duty, and Mr Sunak faces a grim warning from his own MPs that they will fight his Budget if he does try to hike the tax.

Tory MPs are organising a letter urging the Chancellor to think again.

Meanwhile hauliers are demanding and exemption from any future rise after they helped keep the nation going through lockdown.

Sir Mike Penning MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Road Freight and Logistics said: "It will be impossible for our economy to recover without a road freight and logistics sector that is fighting fit.

"The Chancellor must ensure that the Budget supports and protects this vital industry which has been so badly hit by the impacts of the pandemic.

“For far too long our hauliers have been hit with the highest rate of fuel duty in Europe.

"The Chancellor can send a powerful statement about the value of the industry by ending this fuel duty penalty through the introduction of an essential user rebate bringing us in line with our European neighbours."

The Treasury declined to comment on Budget "speculation."

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