Theresa May faces further humiliation at the hands of the European Union (EU)—and her own backbenchers. And it’s not just Brexit that’s testing the Tories.
Pressure mounted on May last Sunday to stop the rollout of the Universal Credit (UC) benefit. UC, which combines six benefits into one, has plunged people into poverty and homelessness.
A Labour parliamentary motion against the UC rollout was passed in parliament last Wednesday—although it has no immediate effect. Knowing they had no hope of defeating it, the Tory leadership ordered its MPs to boycott the motion to hide the scale of backbench rebellion.
Tory MP Heidi Allen is heading up backbenchers who are now calling on May to reduce the wait for the Universal Credit (UC) benefit from six to four weeks.
This group of hypocrite MPs are the same Tories who supported seven years of austerity and welfare reforms. They are just looking out for their own interests.
As the Financial Times newspaper said, “To insist on expansion in its present form is needless and politically dangerous.
“If Mrs May ignored the warnings of her own MPs she could pay a heavy political price.”
Meanwhile the pressures of Brexit grind on. One report of May’s recent dinner meeting in Brussels claimed she was “begging for help” and appeared “tormented”, “despondent and discouraged”.
The EU is demanding that the British government pays billions to leave—and isn’t offering talks on future trade agreements until this is agreed.
Tory international trade secretary Liam Fox said Britain was not bluffing on retaliating with a “no deal Brexit”.
But other sections of the Tory party, such as chancellor Philip Hammond, know that British capital would not accept “no deal”.
The City of London and big business want a deal that delivers a system as close as possible to the EU’s neoliberal single market.
Cabinet ministers are jostling for position ahead of the 22 November budget, hoping to distance themselves from May’s unpopularity and her “no deal Brexit”.
So cabinet minister Sajid Javid said the government could borrow money to build housing in what Hammond promised would be a “revolutionary” budget.
And some Tory MPs are looking for cross-party cooperation with Labour over Brexit.
Senior Tories are describing Theresa May’s government as “weak and stable”, a mockery of her general election slogan “strong and stable”. But there is no obvious unifying replacement to May—or one that wants to take her place at the Brexit negotiating table.
Labour Lord Beecham said UC was “becoming the poll tax of our time”. The poll tax was beaten by mass resistance, not parliamentary manoeuvres. That’s what we need now to force the Tories out.