Nearly 60 members of the British Parliament have vowed to block Chancellor of Exchequer George Osborne’s “punishment budget,” which he proposed to counter the negative effects of a possible vote to leave the European Union (EU).
In a letter published on Wednesday, 57 pro-Brexit Tory MPs said they will reject Osborne’s “Brexit Budget,” hinting at a serious escalation of Tory infighting over the controversial decision.
Six former cabinet ministers - Iain Duncan Smith, Liam Fox, Owen Paterson, David Jones, John Redwood and Cheryl Gillan - were among the MPs who signed the letter.
The MPs noted that Osborne’s “punishment budget” in the event of Brexit would render his position untenable.
Leader of the House of Commons and “Leave” campaigner Chris Grayling said the budget threat was based on a series of assumptions and did not represent “credible economics.”
Labour Party leader Jermey Corbyn, who is a fierce opponent of leaving the 28-member bloc, also made it clear that he will not support Osborne’s austerity budget.
Osborne, a remain campaigner, came under fire from fellow Tory-members after unveiling plans to hit families with £30 billion of tax hikes and spending cuts.
“Quitting the EU would hit investment, hurt families and harm the British economy,” he said earlier on Wednesday.
The Chancellor’s budget for a post-Brexit UK would include cuts to the National Health Service (NHS) by £2.5 billion, military by up to £1.5 billion, and education spending by £1.15 billion.
The head of the UK treasury said the cuts will be applied in order to plug a £20 billion to £40 billion hole in public finance that will emerge after leaving the EU.
The chancellor’s warnings against leaving the EU fell in line with similar statements made by Prime Minister David Cameron and other government officials who unanimously say the move would weaken the country’s economy and undermine its security.
Speaking at prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, Cameron said the “crisis” in public finances should not be ignored.
“Nobody wants to have an emergency budget, nobody wants to have cuts in public services, nobody wants to have tax increases,” he said, arguing that voting remain in the June 23 referendum will prevent the UK economy from going “into a tailspin.”
Major Tory figures, like former mayor of London Boris Johnson, believe leaving the EU would allow Britain to take back control over major issues like immigration while paving the way for thousands of new job opportunities.