Tory back bench disagrees with Cameron over tax cuts

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Tory MPs are calling for big tax cuts to kick-start the economy in today's mini-Budget, even though David Cameron opposes the "fiscal stimulus" to be announced by the Chancellor Alistair Darling. A survey of MPs by ComRes for The Independent shows that Tory backbenchers support using tax cuts to stimulate the economy by a two to one margin. A large majority fear the "green" taxes proposed by Mr Cameron are not right for a recession.

The all-party poll of 155 MPs suggests the Labour leadership is also out of tune with its backbenchers. Labour MPs oppose huge reductions in taxation by a margin of four to one. The Chancellor hopes to win them over by aiming measures at the low paid.

Yesterday, Mr Cameron restated his opposition to the proposed cuts on the grounds they will be funded by higher borrowing. He conceded the Tories might suffer short-term unpopularity if they vote against the measures but insisted they would do the right thing for the economy. The Tory leader told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "The last thing people need is the news that permanent tax rises are going to clobber them ... for the borrowing bombshell to turn into a tax bombshell."

But the survey shows that 62 per cent of Tory backbenchers favour significant cuts in direct taxation, while 72 per cent of Labour backbenchers oppose the idea. Liberal Democrat MPs back the move by 67 to 28 per cent.

Tory MPs are more gloomy about Britain's economic prospects, with 81 per cent predicting a very serious recession – a view held by only 10 per cent of Labour backbenchers. Some 51 per cent of Labour MPs forecast a moderately serious recession, 37 per cent a mild one. There is strong support among MPs in all three parties for a total overhaul of financial regulation.