The Conservative Party is continuing to unravel.
While arguments are raging about Iain Duncan Smith, fresh concerns are mounting over the absence of George Osborne and his failure to offer solutions to the problems that he has created.
New Work and Pensions secretary Stephen Crabb was today expected to announce that changes to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) that had been planned to take £1.3 billion per year from disabled people will no longer take place.
This means there’s a big black hole in the budget that must be balanced before it can be approved by Parliament. Budgets have to balance, as Paul Mason reminded us in a tweet today.
And the Office for Budget Responsibility would be unable to sign off on the third fiscal target – the benefit cap – as current spending forecasts mean that cap will be breached.
And where’s George Osborne? He appears to have done the kind of disappearing act for which Iain Duncan Smith used to be famous. When the going gets tough, the Tories run and hide.
It is all adding up to a huge mess for the Conservative Party.
David Cameron was expected to stand before Parliament and defend his record of “compassionate Conservatism” this afternoon (March 21).
That should provide good comedy value for anybody able to watch, who has a bleak sense of humour.
For the rest of us, it may be worth asking how long this chaos can be allowed to continue.
We need a competent government and the Conservative Party can’t provide that.
The prime minister will address angry Conservative backbenchers in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon when he gives a statement on the EU summit. He is expected to mount a defence of his government and one nation Tory credentials after excoriating criticism from Duncan Smith, who said at the weekend that the unfair balance of welfare cuts risks dividing the nation.
Stephen Crabb, the new work and pensions secretary, will also confirm to parliament that the government is scrapping the disability cuts included in the budget, which prompted Duncan Smith’s resignation.
However, MPs demanded to know why Osborne has not answered questions about the budget and was not set to address parliament until Wednesday.
The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, challenged the chancellor to explain to MPs how the holes in his budget would be filled and repeated calls for him to consider standing down.
“The budget doesn’t add up. The chancellor of the exchequer should come back to parliament and explain that,” he told BBC Breakfast.
“Far from just Iain Duncan Smith resigning, if a chancellor puts forward a budget – as he did – knowing full well that he is making this huge hit on the disabled, then really it should perhaps be him who should be considering his position.”
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