George Osborne faces pressure over fuel hike

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The three pence a litre rise in fuel duty is proposed for January. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Will there or won't there be a rise in fuel duty in January? Tomorrow Labour will hold a debate calling for the proposed increase of three pence a litre to be scrapped.

A handful of Tory MPs opposed to the hike were due to vote with them. But some I've spoken to today have changed their minds.

The reason? They say the Chancellor is in 'listening mode'. In other words they have reason to believe the rise will be delayed again - when the Chancellor gives his Autumn statement in a few weeks' time.

A source close to George Osborne told me he's always in 'listening mode' and that he understands these tough economic times.

Petrol price rises can cause surges in demand at stations. Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The Consumer group Which today released polling showing a record 85 per cent fear fuel price rises - up nine per cent since July.

Labour's Opposition Day Debate tomorrow is trying to up the pressure on Mr Osborne. The Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls says closing tax loopholes can easily make up the shortfall.

Traffic queues in Christchurch. Credit: Chris Ison/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The vote though isn't binding and many Tories are accusing Labour of opportunism. After all, they point out, when they were in government they increased fuel duty.

But given that most of the potential Tory rebels will vote with the Government tomorrow, it's clear the Treasury is doing all it can to scrap the hike - for now at least.