The Prime Minister today signals her determination to stay in Downing Street for the ‘long haul’ with the audacious declaration that the Conservatives are ‘the natural party of the NHS’.
Writing in today’s Mail on Sunday, Theresa May makes a direct challenge to the political orthodoxy that Labour will always be more trusted with the Health Service by stressing her personal debt to the NHS as a diabetes sufferer.
It comes as No 10 strategists are plotting a path for Mrs May to stay in Downing Street until at least 2021, a year before the expected date of the next General Election, by boosting her domestic policy credentials. If Mrs May secures Cabinet and parliamentary approval for a Brexit deal by December, she is being urged to carry out a sweeping Cabinet reshuffle before Christmas to try to reassert her authority.
Theresa May (pictured at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday) could carry out a sweeping Cabinet reshuffle before Christmas to try and reassert her authority
Could Esther McVey (left) and Andrea Leadsom (right) both be in for the chop? Downing Street has been angered by the way Mrs Leadsom and Ms McVey – both strong Brexiteers –have make repeated threats to resign over Mrs May’s attempts to secure a deal with the EU by offering concessions to Brussels over membership of a customs union
Those who would be in line for the chop include Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom, Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling; those tipped for promotion include Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox. Well-placed sources also tip Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab to replace Philip Hammond as Chancellor.
The plan will be greeted with dismay by the ‘noose and knife’ cabal of Brexiteers, who tried to force a leadership contest last month to avert what they fear will be a ‘sell-out’ on Brexit. Their metaphorical claims that she should ‘bring a noose’ to a meeting and that she would be stabbed by a ‘knife’ led to a backlash – ensuring another stay of execution for Mrs May.
Today’s bold claim on the NHS is designed to build on Monday’s tax-cutting Budget, in which Mr Hammond announced the biggest public-spending splurge since 2010 – including the £20 billion a year extra for the NHS announced by Mrs May earlier this year.
Victoria Atkins: Home Office star tipped to go all the way to Downing Street
Ambitious Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins is tipped by many to break into the Cabinet at the next reshuffle – and by some to go all the way to No10.
The Louth and Horncastle MP, 42, is the daughter of former Tory MP Sir Robert Atkins. After private school in Blackpool, she read law at Cambridge before training as a barrister and entering the Commons at the 2015 General Election.
A rising star? Ambitious Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins (pictured) is tipped to break into the Cabinet at the next reshuffle
It is a seat for life. She won with a majority of nearly 20,000 at last year’s Election, despite backing Remain – while 69 per cent of her constituency backed Brexit.
She has impressed the PM as a Minister: her responsibilities include counter-extremism and drugs. She was accused of ‘hypocrisy’ for opposing the liberalisation of drugs laws while being married to the boss of British Sugar, which is licensed to grow non-psychoactive cannabis.
Despite the resignation of Culture Minister Tracey Crouch over delays to reforms to fixed-odds betting terminals, the Budget has still been seen in No 10 as a success – and a chance to give Mrs May’s leadership a fresh lease of life.
In her Mail on Sunday article, Mrs May promises a ‘brighter and more prosperous future for everyone in the United Kingdom’, arguing that at the heart of the Budget was ‘our absolute commitment to the public service that the British people value the most: our NHS’.
She writes: ‘This is personal for me. Just like millions of people across our country, I rely on the NHS every day. The wonderful staff of my local NHS trust in Berkshire help me manage my diabetes so I can live a normal life and get on with doing my job. As Prime Minister, I am determined to do what it takes to secure our NHS for the future so it is there for all of us’. Mrs May adds: ‘It is clear that in British politics today, the Conservatives are now the natural party of the NHS.’
The Conservatives have traditionally trailed well behind Labour when voters are asked who they most trust to protect the Health Service: Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to plough billions more into it and other public services contributed to the wipeout of Mrs May’s Commons majority at last year’s Election. Critics of the NHS splurge, including allies of Mr Hammond, argue that the perception that the Tories are not to be trusted on the NHS is so ingrained that it is pointless –yet ruinously expensive – to try to shift it.
Downing Street has been angered by the way Mrs Leadsom and Ms McVey – both strong Brexiteers –have make repeated threats to resign over Mrs May’s attempts to secure a deal with the EU by offering concessions to Brussels over membership of a customs union. It also regards Ms McVey as ‘lacking a grip on her department’.
Mr Grayling has faced a torrent of criticism over his handling of the rail network following months of timetabling chaos.
It has been widely rumoured that after clashes between the Treasury and No 10 over the end of austerity this would be Mr Hammond’s last Budget. A senior Government source said: ‘The Budget was all about trying to set May up for the long haul. She doesn’t want to go anywhere – and more importantly, nor do the people around her. This wasn’t Philip’s Budget, it was hers.’
Geoffrey Cox: Shakespearean orator who stole the show at conference
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox is being hailed as a hot new political talent at the age of 58, following his show-stealing, Shakespearean turn as Mrs May’s warm-up act at last month’s Tory conference.
Before accepting his Cabinet job, the privately-educated Cambridge graduate declared up to £670,000 a year in ‘additional earnings’ from his work as a QC.
Political talent: Attorney General Geoffrey Cox (pictured) is considered a hot new talent at the age of 58
His advocacy skills were displayed when the Leave supporter implored activists to unite behind Mrs May and seize the ‘precious prize’ of Brexit.
His legal expertise means he is usually among the first Cabinet Ministers consulted by No 10 over proposals to break the deadlock in negotiations with the EU.
Mr Cox, who lives in Devon with wife Jeanie, has three children. His conference speech led to him being tipped as an outsider bet for the next leader.
The Tories are now the natural party of the NHS, writes PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY as she says she relies on it every day to manage her diabetes
Last week we presented a Budget for Britain’s future. It marked a major turning point in our politics. Since the financial crisis, the British people have worked hard to fix the damage caused by Labour’s great recession.
That hard work is now paying off. This Budget sets a clear course towards a brighter and more prosperous future for everyone in the United Kingdom. It shows that responsible Conservative management of the economy allows us to invest more in our vital public services while also cutting taxes – a win-win for working people.
Getting here has not been easy. The whole world faced a financial shock in 2007/2008. But the UK suffered more than most countries because of Labour’s economic mismanagement. Labour arrogantly claimed to have ‘abolished boom and bust’ – just as their failed regulation of the banks set us on the road to ruin.
Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Prime Minister Theresa May says that the NHS is ‘personal’ for her and she uses it everyday
As a result, our deficit soared to a post-war record, nearly three quarters of a million jobs were lost and Britain was on the brink. In eight years, that situation has been transformed and we are now at a turning point. Our debt has begun its first sustained fall for a generation and the difficult years of austerity are now coming to an end.
In the Budget we saw what that means for the British people.
At its heart was our absolute commitment to the public service that the British people value the most: our NHS. This is personal for me. Just like millions of people across our country, I rely on the NHS every day. The wonderful staff of my local NHS trust in Berkshire help me manage my diabetes so I can live a normal life and get on with doing my job.
As Prime Minister, I am determined to do what it takes to secure our NHS for the future so it is there for all of us.
She also said that, as Prime Minister, she is determined to do what it takes to secure the NHS for the future so it is there for everyone
That is why we made the largest- ever cash commitment to our public services by a peacetime government: an extra £394 million every single week. The NHS is the public’s priority – and it is my priority too.
However, simply increasing budgets without a proper plan to improve outcomes is not enough. That was Labour’s mistake. So, in return for our investment, the NHS is working on a new long-term plan to make sure that every penny makes a difference for patients.
That plan will be published shortly, but we can already see its first fruits. A new Cancer Strategy will save thousands of lives by prioritising early diagnosis. A new mental-health crisis service will provide expert support in schools and hospitals, so help is on hand when people need it.
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement on the Brexit negotiations following a European Union summit in Salzburg, at no 10 Downing Street, central London on September 21
Today, in the year of the NHS’s 70th birthday, we are securing its future with our record cash investment and a long-term plan to drive up outcomes for patients. Labour went into the last Election offering to spend less on the NHS than the Government is investing now. In its 2017 manifesto, Labour offered 2.2 per cent more every year of this Parliament. Our new settlement provides substantially more – an average of 3.4 per cent over the next five years. Conservatives have cared for the NHS for most of its life and we are setting out a path for it to prosper for another 70 years and more.
She also said that Jeremy Corbyn and his party do not understand that the way to build a stronger economy that works for working people is by backing businesses to create more jobs
It is clear that in British politics today, the Conservatives are now the natural party of the NHS.
And our Conservative commitment to the NHS means this extra funding is being met not by putting up taxes, but by managing our economy responsibly. Thanks to the hard work of the British people, the deficit is now a fraction of what it was under Labour and we are no longer borrowing anything at all to fund day-to-day spending.
In time, as our debt continues to fall, that will mean we pay less and less on debt interest, saving taxpayers’ money. Employment is at a near-record high and unemployment is at its lowest rate since the 1970s and that means we are spending less on benefits. Instead, as more people earn a wage, more businesses make a profit and more foreign investment comes into the UK, our tax receipts are higher, giving us more money to spend.
That means alongside more investment for our public services, we can also cut taxes for working people. At the Budget, alongside freezes in fuel, beer and spirit duties, we also brought forward an income tax cut for 32 million people, putting more money in the pockets of working families.
Astonishingly, Jeremy Corbyn refused to support these tax cuts. He and his party simply do not understand that the way to build a stronger economy that works for working people is by backing businesses to create more jobs, taking a responsible approach to public spending and keeping taxes low.
Proof of this is his plan for a £1,000 billion spending spree funded by higher taxes on working people and more borrowing. This would devastate our economy. Jobs would be lost, taxes and borrowing would rise, and public services would end up having to face new Labour cuts. After ten years of hard work, Britain would be back at square one.
Over the past decade, our focus was on dealing with the aftermath of the financial crisis. Over the next decade, our challenge must be to seize the opportunities of the future and ensure that everyone benefits. Because the Conservatives are not just a party to fix a mess, we are also a party to steer a course to a better future.
Leaving the European Union with a good deal, creating new jobs and getting the most out of new technology through our Modern Industrial Strategy, taking a responsible and balanced approach to our economy that keeps our national debt falling, our public services improving, people’s wages rising and their taxes low. That is the brighter future Conservatives offer the British people: a country that truly works for everyone.