10 Downing Street intervened to rewrite a Commons motion on fuel duty triggered by the government’s e-petition initiative, a senior Conservative backbencher has revealed. Interference with the motion, which was debated last Tuesday, is being held up in Tory circles as another example of David Cameron’s “arrogance” towards rank-and-file Tory MPs.

The e-petition created by Robert Halfon MP and the FairFuel campaign, garnered over 120,000 signatures by making key demands of the government:

  1. Scrap the planned increases in fuel duty
  2. Create a price stabilisation mechanism that smooths out price fluctuations
  3. Pressure big oil companies to pass on cheaper oil to motorists
  4. Set up a Commission to look at market competitiveness, and radical ways of cutting fuel taxes in the longer term.

With the petition initially blocked by the Backbench Business Committee, a second battle took place over holding the vote in the Commons rather than Westminster Hall. And when it finally came to be debated, the language of the campaign had been mysteriously watered down — with the commitment to scrap increases in fuel duty axed completely.

A source close to the campaign said they were told the motion was altered to make it “more debatable”, which Scrapbook can roughly translate as “easier for the government”.

An absence of concessions in Osborne’s autumn statement could put some backbenchers on notice for open revolt.

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