Today’s vote on foreign aid is extremely important. It is an important demonstration of the gross political might of the Treasury that will have ripple effects for months and years to come.
This is not only significant because it resets expectations as to when the international aid budget will be restored to 0.7% of gross national income. Restoration was almost certainly postponed until the next legislature, and perhaps decades to come.
More importantly, today’s vote will likely change the focus of the public spending debate this fall and beyond, and may even curb some of the Prime Minister’s tendencies to overspending.
This is because today’s Treasury motion is unprecedented in modern times, as it ties the direct consequences – in terms of higher taxes – if the government’s desire to cut spending is defeated.
In other words, Mr Sunak has acquired a new political weapon – a conservative majority against tax hikes – which he can use against those who demand spending increases, even when they come from his neighbor in the number. 10.
After months of watching the prime minister launch rebellions over issues like free school meals and universal credit, it may help turn the tide. It’s handy as the Chancellor walks into a fall anticipating fights with colleagues who want money for social care, green spending, education support and public sector wages, as well as a review of spending in all departments.
It also leaves Labor, again, a bit of an actor – trying to work out how far to climb the moral hill of outrage over polls that suggest the public actively supports cutting aid budgets – 66% told YouGov they were backing the aid cut in November.
The problem with the job is that the government …
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This notice was published: 2021-07-13 14:58:00