Analysis: Form an orderly queue under the magic money tree

Theresa May faced questions on The Andrew Marr show today
Theresa May faced questions on The Andrew Marr show today
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I am no gardener and I have never seen a magic money tree but I know they must grow quickly.

Weeks after Theresa May told a nurse in York during the general election campaign that there was no magic money tree to pay for a public sector pay hike, one had grown sufficiently large to produce a £1bn to secure DUP support for a minority Government

Three months on and so many of these wondrous plants have sprouted that there is now billions to spend on freezing tuition fees and helping homebuyers following the more "flexible" approach now promised on pay limits.

The difficulty for the Prime Minister is that the success of her horticultural efforts is now in danger of undermining her central line of attack against Jeremy Corbyn and Labour.

The Conservatives will argue there is a world of difference between the scale of spending proposed by Labour and their own more modest modifications of austerity.

However, the risk for Mrs May is that she is seen to be conceding the central point on issues Labour has championed while offering underwhelming solutions.

This was the case with her pledge this weekend to freeze tuition fees. The Government has now effectively admitted the university funding system is broken but put forward a remedy which still leaves student voters, who heavily backed Labour in June, choosing between fees of more than £9,000 under the Conservatives or £0 under Labour.

Mrs May has also opened the door to a wave of new claims on the public purse. The defence against unpopular cuts - that savings are being made across the board - had already been substantially weakened by the DUP deal. Having dusted off the credit card this weekend it would now be almost impossible for the Government to make the case for austerity in other areas of spending.

Expect a queue to form underneath May's magic money tree.