Sudden IDS exit leaves the Tory government in crisis

Chris Moncrieff
Chris Moncrieff

You do not need to be a rocket scientist to realise the government is in turmoil.

The dramatic resignation of Iain Duncan Smith as Work and Pensions Secretary came just as the Budget begins to unravel, and is exposed for what it is.

As its small print grows larger, the contents are being shown to be somewhat different from what Tory back-benchers cheered so enthusiastically after the Chancellor George Osborne delivered it.

All this places the Chancellor in a perilous position. Can he survive the assault on his Budget? Particularly from Duncan Smith (as well as other Tories), who is regarded as an honourable mainstay of the Government. Osborne, and the Prime Minister to some extent, must be quaking in their boots.

Already, some parts of the Budget are being re-examined, and the new Pensions and Work Secretary, Stephen Crabb, has said cuts in disabled benefits will not be implemented - a real slap in the face for Osborne.

Indeed, the Chancellor faces days of agonising tension in the Commons, as MPs - including some Tories - tear apart entire sections of the Budget. Labour has already called for his resignation.

Duncan Smith is one of a dying breed at Westminster: an honourable, trustworthy, upright man of integrity. He has pulled no punches in denouncing the Budget and insists - and I for one believe him - allegations that his resignation has anything to do with EU membership are totally untrue.

He has, with complete justification, dropped the Government in the mire. We will see whether Cameron, Osborne and their cronies can dig themselves out of this mess.

• If ever a Government in crisis needed a skilled press relations team at 10 Downing Street, that time is nigh.

Instead, Downing Street’s press office, judging by its outpourings, appears to be unfit for purpose and near disastrous. What is virtually unbelievable is they are making the Prime Minister look like an idiot, rather than the reverse.

This must be partly David Cameron’s own fault. He appears to possess a less than perfect judgement of character when selecting people for his so-called kitchen cabinet.

He has allegedly written letters to various newspapers. The one to the Yorkshire Post begins: “I love Yorkshire”, to the Lincolnshire Echo: “I love Lincolnshire”, and to the Eastern Daily Press: “I love Norfolk” - although in the last case they managed to confuse Holkham beach in Norfolk with Holcombe beach in Devon.

Tom Richmond, of the Yorkshire Post, tells me these letters, and others, are all structured exactly the same after the, “I love ... “ introductions. Is the Prime Minister aware of this ham-fisted attempt at doing things?

Equally, we were told the Prime Minister supported Aston Villa, which later transmogrified into West Ham United, with the feeble excuse that both clubs wear similar strips and that he was actually thinking about cricket. Any genuine football fan would tell you it is impossible to make a mistake like this.

And then, again before he was Prime Minister, he was told to cycle from his home to Westminster to underline his green credentials - but with a car following behind him carrying his shoes.

Straight out of The Goon Show.

I like to think the Prime Minister is not as daft as all that - but you do begin to wonder.

• If Brexit win the forthcoming EU referendum, will Britain regain its right to deport undesirables without interference from foreign judges? There is no certainty of that.

In one case, a vicious criminal could not be deported due to his human rights being infringed as the owner of a cat in this country.

Words fail me...

• The Prime Minister has already said his battle to stay in Europe has no other agenda, since he is not seeking re-election.

He has said he would quit Downing Street before the end of this Parliament, but stories have been appearing suggesting he might stay on as a back-bencher.

If so, I hope he does not treat any Tory successor as PM in the same way Margaret Thatcher treated John Major. She was, unashamedly, his back-seat driver.

Major’s relief when she announced she was going into the House of Lords was both visible and audible.