In this week’s edition of Who’s Top, Who’s Not,
we discuss signs of growing cracks inside cabinet, possible U-turns on the windfall tax, and comments that might have been better off left unsaid.
was a busy man in the Commons this week, first slamming the Prime Minister over the controversial Northern Ireland protocol and then delivering a scathing attack on Rishi Sunak over the government’s failure to introduce a windfall tax to cope with the cost-of-living crisis. The latter contribution came after Tory MPs voted against a Labour amendment to impose a windfall tax on oil and gas giants.
With reports of splits between Johnson and Sunak over how to respond to Labour’s call for a windfall tax on energy companies, treasury officials have briefed that it will be difficult to avoid introducing the levy. The government may have no choice but to make (yet another) U-turn sooner rather than later. It might be a short-term embarrassment for the government to steal yet another Labour policy but one of the benefits of being in office is that you get the credit for implementing popular or successful policies, and the public are likely to quickly forget whose idea it was originally.
the longest serving health secretary in history has been promoting his recently published book, about how the NHS can reduce avoidable deaths, growing backlogs, save money and improve patient outcomes.
However, conversations about Boris Johnson’s successor are continuing to unfold quietly behind the scenes in Westminster – with the ex-cabinet minister refusing to rule himself out of a future Tory leadership contest.
But with the Met Police announcing that Boris Johnson will face no more fines over partygate, the next Tory leadership contest has been put on ice like so much champagne at Downing Street lockdown parties. As such, Hunt will have to continue to bide his time before launching his much-denied leadership bid. But questions remain as to whether the current Tory party has the appetite for Hunt’s brand of One Nation-ism and who will be his opponent from the Conservative right-wing. Definitely one to keep an eye on over the coming months!
Home Office Minister for Safeguarding, sparked a furious backlash earlier this week when she told Sky News that people struggling with the cost-of-living crisis could take on more hours or move to a better-paid job, as a way to “protect themselves” from soaring prices and inflation.
Rather than reading the room and looking to mitigate the uproar, a Downing Street spokesperson took the decision to defend Maclean by suggesting critics were ‘unhelpfully’ trying to ‘twist’ her words. Other Conservatives were quick out the blocks to defend Maclean too, one being Foreign Secretary Liz Truss who was left red faced in an interview with Kay Burley for blindly defending her colleague, despite not having even seen the interview!
had her own struggles this week too, having come under fire after comments were unearthed from 2019, when she claimed that the impact of a no-deal Brexit on Ireland would only “affect a few farmers with turnips in the back of their trucks”. The claim comes as the Foreign Secretary continues to defend UK Government plans to legislate to override parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol as necessary to protect the Good Friday Agreement.
Questions continue to be asked about Truss’s political judgement and there could be long-term implications for her Tory leadership aspirations.
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