David Cameron dropped his support for higher road tax as he pitched for the support of hard-pressed motorists rather than the green vote.
The Tory leader clashed with Gordon Brown over the Government's plans to impose retrospective rises of up to £200 in vehicle excise duty (VED) on cars up to seven years old.
Last year, Mr Cameron welcomed a Tory policy review that called for VED on the most polluting cars to be up to £500 more than for the greenest vehicles and a "showroom tax" of up to 10 per cent on "gas guzzlers".
Allies say he now believes it is not the right time to "clobber the motorist" further at a time of rising petrol prices and when families are feeling the pinch as the economy slows. Last night the Tories denied the party was abandoning the "green agenda" which became a symbol of Mr Cameron's modernising drive.
"We will increase the proportion of taxation raised through green taxes by rebalancing taxation away from taxing 'good' things, like jobs and investment, towards taxing 'bad' things, like pollution and carbon emissions," said a party source.Reuse content