Chancellor’s spending announcements
Sajid Javid, the new Chancellor, has declared the end of austerity – though Philip Hammond the previous chancellor beat him to it when he declared an end to austerity in April – and outlined £13.8 billion in investment in what is the fastest increase in spending for 15 years. The Chancellor announced £6.2 billion extra funding for the NHS, and £1.5 billion for social care. The NHS funding refers to extra frontline cash the NHS was already set to receive from next year, as part of the five-year settlement announced by Theresa May as Prime Minister last year. Health spending on the likes of buildings maintenance and training for staff is also set to rise by £400 million to £9 billion, in a move that has been welcomed after cuts in previous years. The social care funding announcement is new money and non-health budgets have lost out to rising NHS funding.
The move is part of the Conservative Party’s broader strategy in anticipation of an election to take the sting out of Labour’s main line of attack, that the Conservative Party has presided over years and years of austerity.
General election – not yet
The Prime Minister’s motion for an early general election was defeated in the House of Commons. Mr Johnson wanted MPs to agree to an early general election on 15th October and needed two-thirds of all MPs to vote in favour under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, but the Government only secured 298 votes, 136 short of the number required. Labour MPs mostly abstained on the vote with 28 voting against, and the SNP also abstained. Supporters of the Prime Minister criticised opposition members who have been calling for a general election for two years, but they stated the Prime Minister’s motion was a plot to make sure the UK left the EU without a deal.
No no-deal Bill
The government has stated that a bill to prevent no-deal Brexit will complete its passage through the House of Lords by the end of business on Friday. The proposed legislation was passed by the House of Commons on Wednesday and it had been claimed that pro-Brexit peers might deliberately hold up the bill so royal assent could be not be obtained before Parliament is prorogued next week. The no-deal bill was presented by Labour MP Hilary Benn and states the prime minister will have until 19th October to either pass a deal in Parliament or get MPs to approve a no-deal Brexit. If this deadline is passed, the Prime Minister will be forced to request an extension to the UK’s departure date to 31st January 2020. If the EU responds by proposing a different date, the Prime Minister will have two days to accept that proposal.
Another one bites the dust
In a week for UK politics that no one could have predicted, Amber Rudd has quit Boris Johnson’s cabinet, with an outspoken attack on the government’s approach to Brexit. The ex-work and pensions secretary said: “When I asked Number 10 for a summary of what the plan was for actually getting a deal, I was sent a one-page summary.”
In her letter of resignation, Rudd criticised “the assault on decency and democracy that took place last week” after Johnson’s sacking of 21 Tory MPs. While many, including Senior Cabinet Minister, have been quick to share their admiration for Rudd’s decency and bravery, others have doubted the credibility of her words, accusing her of simply ‘fleeing a sinking ship’.
Amidst the potential legal battle that Boris Johnson faces if he is to ignore the cross-party bill which would force the PM to request another Brexit delay if MPs haven’t approved either a new deal or no-deal by 19 October, the Conservative Party is reportedly preparing to attack yet another parliamentary convention. Andrea Leadsom said the Conservatives would defy usual practice and stand a candidate against Speaker John Bercow at the next election, commenting that he “hasn’t just bent the rules, he has broken them”.
Mr Bercow initially represented his Buckingham seat as a Tory MP, before giving up his party affiliation in 2009 when he took up the role of presiding over MPs’ debates. Usually incumbent speakers standing in elections are unopposed by the main parties, and do not campaign on political issues.
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