BREAKING: George Osborne Forced Into PIP Cuts U-Turn
Panicking George Osborne laid the ground for another humiliating Budget U-turn tonight amid a wave of public anger at his disability cuts.
The embattled Chancellor said he will revisit the £4.4billion cut to Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) “to make sure we get this absolutely right.”
Government sources confirmed the cuts will now be “kicked into the long grass” and could eventually be scaled right back.
“This is going to be kicked into the long grass. We need to take time and get reforms right, and that will mean looking again at these proposals,” a source said.
“It’s not an integral part of the Budget – it’s a package that came out beforehand. We are not wedded to (saving) specific sums.”
It follows two days of fury at the Chancellor’s decision to strip 370,000 disabled people of £3,500-a-year in his Budget on Wednesday .
Every single victim will be someone who needs an aid, like a handrail or walking stick, to get dressed or use the toilet.
A YouGov/Times poll revealed overwhelming public opposition to the plan, with 70 per cent of people against and just 13 per cent in support.
This morning furious disability campaigners forced him to abandon a photoshoot with the Tories’ London Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith.
Placard-waving protesters screamed “blood on your hands” as the pair cut short the scheduled event after just two minutes.
Speaking afterwards, a rattled Mr Osborne said: “This Government will always protect the most vulnerable and help disabled people.
“So over the coming months we’ll be talking to colleagues, to disability charities, to make sure we get this absolutely right.”
The climbdown was confirmed hours later by David Cameron , who told a press conference in Brussels: “We’re going to discuss what we put forward with disability charities and others, and make sure we get this right.”
The backlash against the cuts began even before the Budget when Tory backbencher Andrew Percy sent a letter to the Chancellor signed by 20 fellow Tory MPs, warning him not to cut PIPs.
And the pressure grew on Mr Osborne throughout Thursday and Friday as a series of senior Tories called on him to think again.
Dan Poulter, a former Tory Health Minister and qualified doctor, said he had “serious concerns”.
Nicola Blackwood – the Tory chair of the Commons science committee – said she would be “asking the Chancellor to look again at the PIP proposals.”
And Sarah Wollaston, the Tory chair of the Commons health committee and another qualified doctor, said a Government U-turn looks “likely”.
“I think it would be entirely wrong to proceed at this stage,” Dr Wollaston said.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he will force a Commons vote which could inflict another embarrassing defeat on the Chancellor.
Writing for mirror.co.uk , Mr Corbyn said: “Faced with the scale of opposition to these shameful cuts, Ministers have started to talk about consulting before they push them through.
“That’s not enough, and we will force a vote in Parliament.”
As the scale of the Tory rebellion became clear, Ministers were tonight scrambling to row back on the plan.
In a dramatic change of tone Downing Street described the cuts as a “proposal” rather than a final decision.
And Education Secretary Nicky Morgan claimed the brutal cut – the single biggest saving in Mr Osborne’s Budget – was just a “suggestion”.
Appearing on BBC’s Question Time on Thursday night , a floundering Ms Morgan said: “It is still being discussed at the moment.”
The Treasury is now frantically looking for ways to tweak the cuts to make them more palatable – but without it looking like yet another screeching U-turn from Mr Osborne.
His last Budget in July 2015 quickly unravelled when Labour and Lib Dem peers torpedoed his plan to cut tax credits.
And in 2012 Mr Osborne had to rewrite large parts of his so-called ‘Omnishambles’ Budget, amid furious opposition to new taxes on everything from pasties to caravans.