Turmoil may lead to Budget regret for Osbourne

1995 library filer of Chris Moncrieff. Photo by Peter Smith/PA1995 library filer of Chris Moncrieff. Photo by Peter Smith/PA
1995 library filer of Chris Moncrieff. Photo by Peter Smith/PA
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.

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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 slap in the face for Osborne.

Indeed, the Chancellor faces days of agonising tension in the Commons, as MPs 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.

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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.

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 his back-seat driver.

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