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Tory MPs urge Chancellor to ‘balance environmentalism on backs of working people’

CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak came under pressure today from dozens of Tory MPs not to raise fuel tax in the forthcoming Budget.

Fuel duty has been frozen since 2010, but the new Chancellor could end the freeze as part of measures towards meeting climate-change targets in the first post-Brexit Budget tomorrow.

Thirty-six back-bench Tories, including former Cabinet ministers Sir Iain Duncan Smith, David Davis and Chris Grayling, have signed a letter urging Mr Sunak not to increase the tax on petrol and diesel.

Fuel taxes are unpopular with drivers but environmentalists warn that the economy must move away from dependence on gas-guzzling private vehicle use if the threat of climate change is to be met.

Public transport campaign Greener Journeys argues that the decade-long fuel duty freeze has cost the government more than £50 billion in revenue, increased road traffic by 5 per cent and led to 250 million fewer bus journeys, 75 million fewer rail journeys and released an extra five million tonnes of CO2.

The letter, delivered to 11 Downing Street today, says that putting up fuel prices “hits [the] financial security” of people who rely on vehicles in their work.

Mr Sunak is rumoured to be planning to cut income taxes for low earners.

A 134,201-signature petition urging Mr Sunak to cut fuel duty further has been handed into the Treasury by MPs and Howard Cox, founder of lobby group FairFuelUK.

Mr Cox said: “The big worry for us is, because oil prices have plummeted, that gives [Mr Sunak] the excuse to put fuel duty up.”

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