Conservative party

Warring cabinet big beasts need booting in the goolies ‎

BY Bruce Anderson   /  17 July 2017


It is an unholy mess. Things are as bad as they were in the worst days of the Major government. Apropos of holiness, we should thank God that Jeremy Corbyn is not Tony Blair (oddly enough, Mr Corbyn would almost certainly join in the thanks).

So what should the Tories do? After the election, George Osborne described Theresa May as a dead woman walking. Truth is often a potent source of cruelty. But the walk has now been extended. It appears that the PM has put herself at the party’s service. Such honourable conduct should earn her a respite. Duty deserves chivalry.

Yet it is not enough to refrain from turning off the life support machine. The Prime Minister is not poor little Charlie Gard. She – still – has a government to run and this means addressing two mighty and related problems: policies and personalities. What is the government’s policy on Brexit and what is going to happen about public sector pay?

In both cases, it seems to be a case of Philip Hammond versus several other senior ministers. On Brexit, the Chancellor is unimpressed by machismo strutting. He wants a deal that is in the national interest. On public sector pay, he sees real risks of unconditional surrender which would, inter alia, lead to higher interest rates. Mr Hammond has a weakness. He is incorrigibly rational. He believes…