| Twelve leading
Conservative MPs have written to the chief whip urging the government to bow to
pressure to bring forward curbs on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
The letter comes after more than 100 MPs, including Tory rebels such as
Boris Johnson, Jo Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and David Davis, put their name to
an amendment designed to force the government to speed up the policy.
The 12 are parliamentary private secretaries MPs who work
directly for senior ministers and therefore cannot oppose government policy by
supporting the amendment. They have instead urged the chief whip, Julian Smith
MP, to reconsider.
A further 50 Conservatives are believed to be ready
to join the growing rebellion, leaving the government facing the prospect of
being the first to suffer a defeat on its own budget bill since 1978.
The groundswell of support for accelerating plans to cut FOBT stakes
from £100 to £2 appears to have caught the government by surprise.
Campaigners who want to see the date of the stake cut moved from
October 2019 to April 2019, are understood to be quietly confident of getting
Tracey Crouch resigned as sports minister after the
chancellor said in the budget the change would not take place until the later
She was said to be furious because she believed the
pro-gambling MP Philip Davies had successfully lobbied the culture secretary,
Jeremy Wright, to delay the policy, handing bookmakers a £900m windfall.
Davies and Crouch attended the launch of the Gambling With Lives
charity, which was held in the House of Commons on Tuesday evening.
founders, Charles and Liz Ritchie, whose son Jack killed himself aged 24 after
becoming addicted to FOBTs, spoke at the event.
Liz Ritchie clashed with
Davies, refusing to shake his hand as he vehemently stuck to his support for
gambling companies right to keep FOBTs during a discussion with her.
She added: Its not just him, of course. We know the
chancellor was lobbied by the industry because he said so. We want to see an
immediate reduction in the stake and Id like to see stake limits extended
online. These are dangerous products.
The rebels include the
Treasury committee chair, Nicky Morgan, Johnny Mercer, Priti Patel, Justine
Greening and Zac Goldsmith, while MPs from Labour, the Liberal Democrats, DUP,
SNP and Plaid Cymru have also signed.
The former Tory leader Iain
Duncan Smith, the Labour MP Carolyn Harris and the SNPs Ronnie Cowan laid
the amendments, which are expected to be put to a vote on Wednesday 21
Enough is enough, MPs on all sides of the House are
calling on the government to see sense and bring forward the stake cut for
FOBTs to April 2019, Harris said. The governments position is
indefensible. They can either accept our amendments or expect to be defeated in
the finance bill next week. It is a great shame for all concerned that it has
come to this.
Duncan Smith said: Everyone who has signed
this is deadly serious about voting for these amendments unless the government
have an alternative which is acceptable to everybody.
Ii is expected
that Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright will tell MPs that the £2 limit will
be implemented from April along with the rise in remote gaming duty from 15% to
21%. Theresa May, responding to FOBT opponent Iain Duncan Smith (pictured) at
Prime Ministers Questions, said that the government has been
listening to the concerns of MPs and confirmed Wright will give more
details later today.