Plans to slash taxes dominate leader race and others hang in balanceJuly 7, 2022
Which policies will survive the bonfire of the vanities? With plans to slash taxes set to dominate leadership race, a raft of other planned measures are hanging in the balance
- A raft of government polices are now hanging in the balance after Boris’s exit
- Measures popular with Conservatives are at risk of stalling under new leader
- Priti Patel’s radical plan to send illegal migrants to Rwanda could be at risk
- Dominic Raab’s Bill of Rights brainchild is also thought to be vulnerable
A raft of government policies were hanging in the balance last night as a result of the tumultuous changes in Downing Street and Whitehall.
Measures which are highly popular with Conservative voters – including legislation that has begun its passage through Parliament – are at risk of stalling under a new administration.
Other policies are closely associated with ministers who have resigned or whose long-term fate under a new Prime Minister remains in doubt. In a further complication, the ‘brain drain’ of mass ministerial resignations is likely to lead to delays to complex proposals while their successors get up to speed.
Nadhim Zahawi, the new Chancellor, has already set out his stall – telling Times Radio he could bin the planned hike in corporation tax next year
Promises to slash taxes and help families through the cost of living crunch are set to dominate the Tory leadership race, and candidates will be under pressure from MPs to rebuild the Conservative Party’s low-tax reputation.
Likely leadership hopeful Nadhim Zahawi, the new Chancellor, has already set out his stall – telling Times Radio he could bin the planned hike in corporation tax next year.
Former chancellor Rishi Sunak, another probable candidate, said in his resignation letter that he and Boris Johnson’s stances on the economy were ‘fundamentally too different’. But he will have a battle to convince Tory MPs of his low-tax credentials after presiding over tax hikes.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, expected to be a frontrunner in the race, has frequently brandished her low-tax credentials. She has told friends she briefly considered resigning over the national insurance tax hike to pay for social care – believing the Chancellor should have borrowed the money instead.
One flagship policy which is thought to be at risk is Priti Patel’s radical plan to send illegal migrants to Rwanda. The number of migrants who have crossed from northern France on small boats since the start of the year passed 13,000 yesterday, underlining the need for a solution to the Channel crisis.
But the Rwanda deal was very much the creation of Miss Patel and Mr Johnson, who have insisted it is necessary to deter migrants from risking their lives in the Channel, and to break the people-trafficking gangs.
Yesterday Miss Patel said she would continue to uphold her ‘important responsibilities’ amid the turmoil, adding: ‘At this critical time my duty is to continue to lead this great office of state, to protect our national security, and keep the citizens of our country safe.’
Former chancellor Rishi Sunak, another probable candidate, said in his resignation letter that he and Boris Johnson’s stances on the economy were ‘fundamentally too different’
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, expected to be a frontrunner in the race, has frequently brandished her low-tax credentials
She now faces a race against time to demonstrate the Rwanda policy works, before a new Tory leader is elected and Miss Patel, presumably, leaves the Home Office.
The first hurdle Miss Patel must clear is a judicial review of the Rwanda policy as a whole, which is expected to be heard at the High Court in London on July 19. Judges will scrutinise claims – brought by pro-migrant campaigners – that the policy breaches international law.
If Miss Patel is able to remove migrants to Rwanda before Mr Johnson steps down in September, it could serve to validate the policy as a whole. If she were to be replaced as Home Secretary, it would be much more difficult for her successor to then abandon the idea altogether, particularly if it has a deterrent effect on Channel crossings.
If the next Tory administration is more centrist than Mr Johnson’s, a future home secretary would be free to abandon the scheme and come up with alternatives.
One immigration source said last night: ‘The next leader could appoint someone to the Home Office who wants to continue with the red-meat, headline-grabbing style of policy.
‘Or they could take a more technocratic approach to the Channel problem – by trying to speed up the asylum system, bolstering removals and trying yet again to secure agreements with France.’
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab’s Bill of Rights is also thought to be vulnerable.
It intends to scrap Labour’s Human Rights Act and – crucially – make free speech a ‘trump card’ over other rights. Other important aspects of the Bill include limiting use of the ‘right to private and family life’ by foreign criminals trying to avoid deportation, and making clear that the UK’s Supreme Court – not Strasbourg – is the ultimate decision-maker on human rights issues.
One flagship policy which is thought to be at risk is Priti Patel’s radical plan to send illegal migrants to Rwanda
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab’s Bill of Rights is also thought to be vulnerable
The Bill is very much the brainchild of Mr Raab. If he is replaced, it is unclear whether his successor would have the interest – or political heft – to keep the legislation on track.
In other areas, before shifting from Education to the Treasury, Nadhim Zahawi was a key advocate of drawing up new guidance for schools on how to handle transgender issues.
It remains unclear whether the placekeeper Education Secretary, James Cleverly, will pursue the same line.
Highly complex reform of gambling laws and regulation of tech giants are also in the balance after the resignation of Chris Philp, the minister overseeing both areas.
Key areas at the Department for Levelling Up, including whether to give permission for a new deep coal mine in Cumbria as part of a wider energy security package, could also find themselves in limbo.
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