Newton Abbott MP has whip removed after voting to cut VAT on energy bills

With an 80 seat majority this government looks to be paralysed and foundering, and that was before the Prime Minister’s “Sorry…not sorry” statement.

Simon Jupp dutifully voted with the whip, yet we still have no plan to relieve the massive increases in household energy bills. – Owl

Anne Marie Morris, the MP for Newton Abbott, supported an opposition day motion tabled by Labour that urged the Government to remove the current tax rate of five per cent on domestic fuel supply.

By Dominic Penna

Labour had proposed to fund the measure, which the Resolution Foundation estimated would cost around £2 billion, with a one-off windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas companies.

Ms Morris was previously suspended for five months in 2017 after she was recorded using the ‘N-word’ during a panel event. She repeatedly apologised for this and acknowledged she had used “inappropriate and offensive language”.

On Monday, she said removing VAT was the “right thing to do” in the face of the cost-of-living crisis.

“It is deeply disappointing to have had the whip removed by the Government, especially on a matter of simply standing up for what I believed to be the best interests of my constituents,” she wrote on her website.

“Yesterday’s opposition day debate on removing VAT on household energy bills was an issue that I have voiced my support for a number of times.

“I remain strongly committed to Conservative principles and supporting a Conservative government that acts in the best interests of the country. But I will always vote on the issues of the day, whatever they may be, in the best interests of my constituents in Teignbridge as well as the wider country.”

Ms Morris added that while she understood the Government’s opposition to the procedural nature of the bill, which would have given Labour control of the order paper, she “won’t apologise” for supporting measures she believed would help her constituents.

The issue of rising fuel costs has been thrown into sharp focus ahead of April 1, when the energy price cap is predicted to rise by as much as 51 per cent, adding an estimated £600 a year to average bills.

The Treasury is planning a package of measures to ease the burden on lower-income households. The Telegraph reported on Tuesday that people living in colder parts of the country could receive greater financial support in a bid to protect them from rising costs.

Ms Morris was the only Tory MP who voted against the Government on the motion, which was ultimately defeated by 319 votes to 229. She will continue to sit as an independent, reducing the number of Conservatives in the Commons to 360.

In a winding-up speech, Greg Hands, the energy minister, said Labour “doesn’t have a plan, they have a four-page motion” on the issue of soaring bills.

“This is a student union tactic which they well-rehearsed during the Brexit years,” Mr Hands said. “They have completely lost the plot into their own world of procedural gobbledygook.”