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Chris Moncrieff: Is the Prime Minister in a spin?

By Chris Moncrieff | Chris Moncrieff | Published:

This has been the Prime Minister’s most dizzying period of switchback politics since she entered 10 Downing Street.

Theresa May visited the Express & Star offices this week

She earned Brownie points for her decision to support the air attacks on Syria, without consulting Parliament. Even a sizeable number of Labour MPs agreed with her that if action was to be taken, it had to be taken swiftly.

Jeremy Corbyn was not among those supporters, however, indicating that a Labour Government would probably introduce a new law to ensure Parliament is consulted before acts of aggression are embarked upon.

It is beginning to look as though Corbyn is losing the trust of large swathes of the Parliamentary Labour Party. But his grip on party leadership is as firm as ever, and he is in no mood to let go.

And for the Prime Minister, things started to go swiftly downhill after that.

The blame for the Windrush affair has been laid squarely at the door of the Prime Minister who, when Home Secretary, was accused of ordering the Home Office to destroy documents which would have proved that many of these people were not illegal immigrants.

Mrs May said those orders were given, not by her, but by a previous Labour Government in 2009. Labour have fiercely denied this, so the ding-dong continues.

The present Home Secretary Amber Rudd is also in trouble after publicly blaming civil servants for the scandal. It is beginning to look very ugly.

Meanwhile, the Government may have problems in upsetting the House of Lords vote that Britain should remain in the customs union after Brexit, which ministers say would be a betrayal of those who successfully voted for Brexit in the referendum.

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It never rains . . .

It could be good for vote-catching - but bad news for the nation’s economy. That is the Government’s view of Jeremy Corbyn’s restatement the other day of plans to introduce four more annual Bank Holidays if Labour wins the next general election.

The plan, first announced more than a year ago, is to have public holidays on St George’s Day, St Andrew’s Day, St David’s Day and St Patrick’s Day. Nothing had been heard of it since until last weekend, when it was brought up again by the Labour leader.

The Tory view is that to lose four more working days a year could significantly damage the UK’s economy. But it is a tricky one for the Prime Minister, because such a policy would be highly attractive probably to millions of voters.

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The Conservatives will continue to argue that however attractive this proposition may sound, it could have the effect of putting many firms out of business.

Four more days in which the wheels of industry stop turning may not seem much, but it could just be the tipping point at which many firms might have to lay off workers.

MPs marvelled the other day that the Commons Speaker John Bercow sat continuously through nearly 12 hours of debate without, apparently, suffering any bladder discomfort. He was immediately given a new title: The Man With The Iron Bladder.

In fact, years ago, the Speaker’s chair in the Commons served also as a commode. The Speaker of the day drew a modesty curtain in front of him and then did what he had to do while still maintaining control over proceedings in the Chamber.

It was an early example of multi-tasking – and performed by a man.

Chris Moncrieff

By Chris Moncrieff

Journalist and former political editor of the Press Association

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