Papers guess at Brown fuel plans


6 November 2000



Papers guess at Brown’ fuel plans

By FWi staff

GORDON BROWN will freeze duty on fuel until at least April 2002, and perhaps for a year after that, claims The Times.








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The newspaper says the Chancellor and Tony Blair have decided against across-the-board cuts in fuel taxes in the Pre Budget statement on Wednesday (06 November).

It says this is a gamble which risks a head-on clash with farmers and other fuel tax protesters.

Mr Brown is also said to be planning cuts in excise duty for most lorries and concessions for environmentally-friendly fuels.

Foreign truckers are expected to have to pay a “Brit disc” fee to match excise duties paid by UK operators, predicts the newspaper.

Other concessions to voters will include tax cuts for some families, and scrapping stamp duty on inner-city properties, claims The Guardian.

In the run-up to the pre-Budget statement, Whitehall continues to give mixed signals in its relations with fuel protesters.

The Chancellor is expected to tell the Confederation of British Industry on Monday (06 November) that he will not give in to a “quick fix” on fuel tax.

And The Guardian says protesters have recognised their weakening position by slashing demands for a 26p cut in general fuel duty to 12p.

But transport minister Lord Macdonald, who on the same day meets fuel protest leader farmer Brynle Williams, has offered protesters some hope.

He said he was sure Mr Brown would do “what he can” to help those angry at fuel prices.

Lord Macdonald acknowledged that farmers were suffering from restructuring and said “youve got to help people in those situations”.

In The Times, columnist Mick Hume accuses the Government of running a systematic propaganda campaign to discredit fuel protesters.

He draws parallels with the actions of Margaret Thatcher who in the 1980s labelled striking miners “the enemy within”.

The Financial Times considers a split between farmer David Handley, chairman of the Peoples Fuel lobby, and more moderate protest groups.

Criticism of Mr Handley by John Bridges, chairman of the Fuel Forum, “has played into the Governments hands” says the FT.

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