without DOUBT, this has been the most chastening month in Theresa May’s political career – a misjudged election compounded by the Grenfell Tower inferno and growing debate about whether those health and emergency workers who responded to this tragedy, and recent terrorist attacks, now merit a pay rise.
In one sense, Mrs May came out fighting at Prime Minister’s Questions as her premiership approaches its first anniversary. She highlighted the number of NHS staff and teachers that have been recruited since 2010 – and that it would be irresponsible to lift the pay cap if the nation’s finances cannot support the loosening of the purse strings. If not, everyone will pay the price.
The problem is that the PM has run out of political credit. After finding £1bn to buy the support of Northern Ireland’s DUP party, it’s harder for the Government to resist those politicians, including senior ministers, who want to end austerity in defiance of warnings issued by David Cameron from the Far East. To cap it off, the Government did itself no favours when John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, tabled an urgent question after PMQs.Instead of Chancellor Philip Hammond responding, he sat stony-faced on the front bench while Treasury chief secretary Liz Truss tried – and failed – to provide some clarity. For, unless the Prime Minister and Chancellor bury the hatchet and reach an agreed position, the prevailing uncertainty will only lessen Mrs May’s survival chances.