The last week has been a disaster for the Conservative government. Whether it’s the massive budget U-turn on National Insurance contributions for the self-employed, a £70,000 fine from the Electoral Commission or a clueless Brexit Secretary, things have not been good.
But far from getting easier, this week is just the tip of the iceberg. Theresa May’s government is set to face an even stormier time in the weeks ahead.
This is the big issue that just isn’t going to go away. And while the fine might be the largest ever handed out to a political party, it will be small change for the Tories.
But there are still ongoing police investigations. Police have now passed evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service. Dozens of MPs are being investigated. And the scandal has the potential to trigger by-elections that could threaten the government’s majority.
Meanwhile, the rest of the mainstream media is beginning to wake up and cover the story. Despite the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg portraying it as a “mistake”, this is one of the biggest scandals to shake a major political party in recent years.
The schools funding formula
The proposed new funding formula for schools is under attack from all angles. Schools across the country have been speaking out about cuts. Cuts that have led to staff redundancies, the cutting of essential support services and leaking classrooms. And they claim the proposed new funding formula will make things even worse.
The government has defended the changes, but it is under increasing pressure to perform another U-turn. Even former Chancellor George Osborne has spoken out about it, along with several other Conservative MPs. This means the government is facing an unenviable choice: proceed with a vote that it could lose, or shelve the policy.
Personal Independence Payments
The government’s slashing of disability payments for 160,000 people is another scandal that is not going away. They have pushed through the changes without a vote in the House of Commons. Even though charities, MPs and the government’s own welfare experts have criticised the changes.
It seems the Department and Work and Pensions (DWP) knows it’s unlikely to win a vote on the matter. DWP Secretary Damien Green joked that allowing a vote was:
above my paygrade.
But it isn’t a joke and it isn’t the end of the matter. Because the changes still face challenges in the Lords. And this lifeline could be given back to thousands of people with disabilities if the changes are defeated.
Brexit, referendums and more
In addition to a major fraud investigation, and the prospect of defeat on two major policies, the government’s facing other challenges. Firstly there’s the triggering of the big red Brexit button that Theresa May has promised before the end of March. The pound dipped after parliament passed the Brexit bill. That’s not a good economic omen.
Meanwhile, Brexit Secretary, David Davis fell apart when he was questioned by MPs. Davis was confused about how a child’s toy works. And he’s one of the people in charge of the complicated arrangements for leaving the EU. He said:
When we finish building the Lego blocks, we’ll build the house.
But Lego comes in blocks – there’s no need to build them.
There’s also the raging war Theresa May has embarked on with Nicola Sturgeon over a second Scottish referendum. And the issue of whether Northern Ireland and Wales will remain part of the UK. Many in Cornwall would like a say too.
In short, May’s Brexit Britain may end up being as tiny as her Brexit bill.
Local government elections are taking place in May. And with all these burgeoning issues those elections will be a massive test for the government. It might like to think it’s impervious. But the electorate might have other ideas.
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