Boris Johnson 'to join Tory backbench rebellion' over fixed-odds betting terminals

Posted On: 
12th November 2018

Boris Johnson is set to cause a fresh headache for Theresa May as he joins up to 60 MPs rebelling over delays to a clampdown on gambling machines.

The Tory heavyweight has previously described fixed-odds betting terminals as a "scourge".

A £2 cap on the maximum stake for fixed-odds betting terminals is set to come into force in October next year.

But culture minister Tracey Crouch quit the Government earlier this month after accusing ministers of failing to act quickly enough.

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The Sun reports that Mr Johnson, the former Foreign Secretary, is one of up to 60 Conservative, Labour and SNP MPs who will throw their weight behind a Commons amendment urging ministers to bring the cap forward to next April.

The paper says the amendment to the Finance Bill - which brings measures outlined in the Budget into force - will be laid by ex-Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and Labour MP Carolyn Harris as early as today.

Mr Duncan Smith said: "There is firm support for this across the House. The Government has to move."

In 2015, Mr Johnson urged ministers to cut the maximum stake able to placed on FOBTs from £100 to £2, branding the machines "the scourge of our high streets and a very bad thing for our community".

The then-mayor of London added: "They can be dangerously addictive, their promise of whopping wins only gives false hope, and they prey on the vulnerable within our society."

According to the paper, Ms Crouch - who accused ministers of caving in to "registered interests" when she dramatically resigned earlier this month - is among those set to back the rebel amendment.

Speaking last week, Chancellor Philip Hammond defended the Treasury's decision to delay the introduction of the gambling curbs, warning that "between 15,000 and 21,000" jobs were at stake.

"I have absolutely no love for these machines," he told MPs.

"I think they are terrible things. But Government has to manage this process in an orderly and sensible way. We are looking at a measure which will have a very significant impact on the industry."