Farewell IDS, hello trouble...
The big story of the weekend does not seem to be fading away any time soon for the Prime Minister. Former Work and Pensions Secretary, former Conservative leader and overall big personality, Iain Duncan Smith resigned on Friday pointing to a socially divisive budget and an increasingly centralised decision making process in central Government as the key reasons. With any political story these days however, the spectre of the EU referendum was not too distant, particularly given Duncan Smith’s open support for Brexit.
The Conservative Party is finally addressing its very personal elephant in the room, EU membership, and the signs of rupture are beginning to show. Despite calls by senior party figures such as Ken Clarke to “calm down and try to get back to the issues”, the more likely scenario is that disagreements will become more vicious and increasingly public. The Prime Minister faces his toughest days as leader in the coming months as signs of a fatigue in his Government begin to show and the referendum rapidly approaches.
If a divided house cannot stand and there is a need to inject dynamism, a Cabinet reshuffle is the obvious solution. The Prime Minister can deliver on the much tougher stance he expressed last year on Cabinet discipline on the issue of Europe. It would also allow him to move the Chancellor to a less contentious position as frustration over his reach across Whitehall grows. Such a move would almost certainly exacerbate the current mood, particularly if Brexit ministers were to find their way to a more immediate exit door, but could deliver longer-term stability. With his legacy in terms of the nation and Conservative party resting on the balance, the Cameron may have to find himself choosing between the two.
Image source: Huff Post