Government break-up?

We’ve never believed that  marriage tax breaks will encourage any couple to stay together. But two reports this week make us wonder whether they might actually lead to an acrimonious split within the Government.

An article in the Telegraph contrasts and compares the Prime Minister’s instinctive support for marriage tax breaks, stating that “his proposal to offer a tax break to married couples projects his personal vision of Conservatism”,  while describing how the Chancellor ”loathes” the idea; “He is not a social conservative and hates the notion of bribing anyone down the aisle.

Meanwhile the Evening Standard and  Huffington Post carry interviews with Liberal Democrat MP Nick Harvey. He’s criticising Nick Clegg for wasting millions of pounds in a deal with the Tories over married couples tax allowance and free school meals. Nick Harvey described his reaction to Nick Clegg announcing free school meals for all infants:

“It seemed to be part of some coalition deal where it was meant to make the Lib Dems feel better about allowing the Tories to progress their wretched married couples tax allowance. I am supposed to rejoice at this other policy that seems to me to be squandering a lot of money”.

The coalition agreement allowed Lib Dems to abstain from a vote on marriage tax breaks. That agreement looked likely to break down this summer until reinforced with a one-for-you (free school meals) and-for-us (marriage tax breaks) deal announced at conference.

We’re of course really pleased to hear Nick Harvey willing to speak out against £700m being spent on marriage tax breaks. And we’d  really like to hear George Osborne do the same – and perhaps he could also tell us what he’d prefer to spend the money on instead…