Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has come under renewed pressure from Esther McVey to scrap HS2 rather than raise taxes in his Autumn Statement tomorrow.
The Tatton MP said government could not claim they had no other option to increase taxes when it continued to “write a blank cheque” for HS2.
Raising the issue in Prime Minister’s Questions she said: “Given we have the highest burden of taxation in living memory, it is clear that the government’s financial difficulties are caused by overspending and not due to under taxing.
“Does the Deputy Prime Minister therefore agree that if government has enough money to proceed with HS2 at any cost, then it has sufficient cost not to increase taxes.
“If, however, it has so little money it has to increase taxes – it does not have sufficient money for HS2.”
Ms McVey said raising taxes was the last thing a Conservative government should do.
She added: “So can I gently urge the Deputy PM not to ask Conservative MPs to support any tax rises unless and until this vanity project is scrapped. I for one will not support them.”
Responding on behalf of the Prime Minister who is at the G20 in Bali, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said: “I understand her opposition to HS2 and I think we have some very difficult decisions to make. They will inevitably involve a balanced approach. I will leave it to the Chancellor to set them out in his Autumn Statement.”
Last week Ms McVey met with Mr Hunt to set out her opposition to raising taxes.
A report by think tank The Policy Exchange said all sections of HS2 where construction work had not yet started should be cancelled. It claimed it would free up money for better schemes which would help people more quickly and reduce the need for cuts to public services.