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Leading Tory MPs join calls to accelerate curbs on FOBTs 13/11/18
• MPs who all work for ministers write to chief whip amid growing rebellion over policy.
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 their way.

Tracey Crouch resigned as sports minister after the chancellor said in the budget the change would not take place until the later date.

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.

The 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: “It’s 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 I’d 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 SNP’s Ronnie Cowan laid the amendments, which are expected to be put to a vote on Wednesday 21 November.

“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 government’s 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 Minister’s Questions, said that the government “has been listening to the concerns of MPs” and confirmed Wright will give more details later today.