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The Chancellor faces a political balancing act as he considers whether to raise taxes in the Budget

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27.02.2021

Ahead of the Budget, Labour politicians and right-wing commentators are lining up to criticise the Chancellor. With reports rife that the Treasury is considering a range of tax rises to be announced next week, Rishi Sunak finds himself under fire from all sides before he has even stood up at the dispatch box.

And with speculation mounting that Sunak could announce a range of tricky measures from a stealth tax on pensioner savings to a rise in capital gains and corporation tax, MPs are pre-emptively threatening rebellion.

The scale of discontent is so bad that at a recent pre-Budget meeting of the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers, the Chief Whip reminded the party that rebelling on a Budget would be a confidence issue – meaning they could lose the whip.

While aides will not confirm – or deny – recent reports on tax rises, Treasury insiders are keen to lower expectations for next week’s Budget. Front pages suggesting it could be a giveaway Budget are quickly steered against. “This is not going to be a bunny budget,” says a Government source, in reference to the “rabbit in hat” good news policy that is often revealed in a fiscal event.

Instead, difficult decisions are coming. Sunak will use the Budget to outline his concerns over the £400bn deficit the country faces. He will acknowledge that this is a........

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