Osborne insists there will be no cuts to fuel duty

George Osborne has reportedly ruled out any cuts to fuel duty in next month's budget, as drivers are forced to contend with record prices at the pump.

Diesel prices hit 143.5p this week and a planned rise in fuel duty in the forthcoming budget has led to calls for protests at Westminster next month.

The Chancellor, inset, is set to raise fuel duty by 3p in August, after having deferred the rise from January. But his aides have said that the rise must go ahead as planned, in order to fund business tax cuts demanded by many in the Conservative Party. "Petrol prices have remained within a 5p range for some time," an aide to Mr Osborne told the Financial Times. "The price is a lot lower than it would have otherwise been if we had not intervened. We have no plans to change what we said at the autumn statement."

Motoring organisations have called on the Chancellor to scrap the rise. The Retail Motor Industry (RMI) said the increase would be a "disaster" and "could derail Government plans to curb inflation". The AA has also called on Mr Osborne to reconsider. Fuel duty in the UK is 57.95p per litre, among the highest in Europe.

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