On Saturday night Sajid Javid and David Gauke emailed Tory MPs to insist there would be no u-turn on the government’s controversial business rates changes, and that negative news stories about some eye-watering rises were “half-truths”, “misinformation”, “myths” and “made up”. So it was bold of the ministers to attach a spreadsheet outlining the changes in each constituency. Some of the rises will be tough to stomach: businesses in Philip Hammond’s Runnymede will face a 13% increase, Dominic Raab’s Esher and Walton and Chris Grayling’s Epsom and Ewell face 10% rises, Greg Hands’ Chelsea and Fulham by 22% and Ian Liddell-Grainger’s West Somerset a staggering 65% rise.
Tory MPs are angry that ministers are taking such a bold stance decrying media “misinformation” when the numbers show concerns about rises are real. It is also notable how the rises mainly affect Tory areas – backbenchers and indeed some ministers are highly unimpressed that businesses in their seats are facing huge bills while Labour colleagues enjoy slashed rates. The government says there will be no u-turn, will this line hold?