Bercow attacks Howard's focus on tax and Europe

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Michael Howard has been criticised by one of his MPs for proposing tax cuts for the rich and failing to modernise the appeal of the Conservative Party.

Michael Howard has been criticised by one of his MPs for proposing tax cuts for the rich and failing to modernise the appeal of the Conservative Party.

On the first anniversary of Mr Howard's leadership, John Bercow, a former frontbench spokesman for the Tories, accuses him of focusing too heavily on immigration, taxation, and Europe. In an interview in today's Independent, Mr Bercow says Mr Howard is wrong to go into the general election promising cuts in inheritance tax for the well-off. "If I had got my way it would have sent a powerful message that the Conservatives are alarmed by the scale of global poverty," says Mr Bercow, the Tory MP for Buckingham.

"I don't meet people even in Conservative areas who tell me their main priority is tax cuts ... We have to spend a lot more time thinking about people who don't vote Conservative."

Mr Bercow also criticises Mr Howard for accusing Tony Blair of deliberately misleading the country over Iraq. Mr Bercow is regarded as a maverick by the Tory leadership and his remarks could cause speculation that he might defect - something he has privately dismissed. Friends of Mr Bercow have told The Independent the MP is "on a political journey".

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