Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Business
  2. Economics
9 March 2017

Theresa May is running out of ways to avoid defeat over national insurance

The numbers of MPs who have publicly opposed the measure continues to rise - and DUP sources expect it to fail.

By Stephen Bush

The pressure is growing on the government over its planned increase to national insurance contributions. The number of Conservative MPs speaking out against the measure is already enough to overturn the government’s majority. Guto Bebb, a government minister and Welsh MP, says he intends to apologise to every voter in Wales for the breach of the Conservative promise.

Could the party squeak over the line with the support of Labour? That the measure makes the tax system more progressive means that ideologically, Labour has reason to side with Philip Hammond on this. But the leadership has no intention to “bail out” the Conservatives, not least because they regard the move as a half-measure in terms of the problems of the gig economy and the wider phenomenon of self-employment.

Who else might help the government out of its hole? The government could squeak over the line thanks to the votes of the Democratic Unionist Party, but the DUP would exact a heavy price from the government for bailing them out. The change already raises a derisory amount of extra revenue, so passing it through that route would likely mean that the Treasury lost money overall. 

So the government is not going to find the votes it loses from the Conservative Party elsewhere. A U-Turn, however embarrassing, may be the only way to avoid parliamentary defeat. 

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
How industry is key for net zero
How to ensure net zero brings good growth and green jobs
Flooding is a major risk for our homes