The sacked Chancellor George Osborne is showing all the signs of becoming Theresa May’s bete noire on the Government backbenches, the dreaded “loose cannon” firing random missiles designed to make life uncomfortable for a Government he considers too right-wing.
Needless to say, he has denied this charge, replying “not necessarily” when asked whether he would be providing a distraction for Theresa May from the backbenches. That sounds pretty ominous to me.
And, apparently setting himself up as the voice of what he called the “liberal majority”, he may garner enough support to make it that much more difficult for the Prime Minister simply to swat him down like an annoying fly. His remark that he had voted for Mrs May as the new Tory leader because – to put it in my words rather than his – he implied she was the best of a bad bunch of aspirants, was scarcely a compliment.
Grammar schools, Hinkley and his “Northern powerhouse” project are among the issues he seems intent on pursuing from the backbenches. And he has said he does not intend to write his memoirs yet, because he does not know what the end will be.
These sound very much like the words of a man who hasn’t given up his ambition to return to front-line politics, or even to acquire the key of 10, Downing Street. Politicians are adept at saying the nastiest things in the nicest possible way.
The Prime Minister will need eyes like a hawk to ensure Osborne’s ambitions do not cause her problems.
- Political battles will be far more intense than usual in the constituencies that will be reduced by 50 for the next Parliament. This means MPs who see their constituencies disappearing under the redistribution plan, will be eyeing up their older and frailer colleagues, whose seats remain intact and who might be retiring at the next election.
This culling of MPs may sound drastic, but it is nowhere near as drastic as that proposed by Sir Edward Heath, who said the number should be cut by half. But even with the proposed culling of 50 members, there will still be far too few seats on the floor of the Commons to accommodate all those who remain.
So Jeremy Corbyn is at liberty to sit on the floor if he so chooses.