Regular readers of The Torch will know our continuing commitment to exposing the many u-turns of the Prime Minister, but may not be aware of the magnitude of the problem. We can reveal today that in the past year, Theresa May – who promised “strong and stable leadership” during the general election – has u-turned a staggering TWENTY TIMES since becoming Tory leader one year ago.
The embattled Prime Minister has reversed policy on a variety of matters including fox hunting, the dementia tax and tax increases for self-employed workers – and this number doesn’t include her famous u-turn on the EU itself, where having campaigned for Remain, she has become one of the most fervent advocates for an extreme Brexit.
While many will welcome the substance of some of the u-turns, critics are concerned that to flip-flop so publicly on so many issues betrays a weak premiership, with rumours intensifying that May could be deposed by a Tory leadership coup before the end of the year.
The twenty u-turns in full:
- Northern Powerhouse. Having tried to ditch the policy from her industrial strategy, she later performed a u-turn and said she was fully behind it.
- EU nationals. After refusing to offer a guarantee for EU citizens living in Britain, the PM u-turned after her election humiliation, after significant pressure from Parliamentary opponents.
- Hinkley Point. The PM paused the deal around Hinkley Point – but then unpaused it with almost nothing changed.
- Foreign doctors. Theresa May suggested that foreign-born doctors would no longer be welcome beyond 2025. The Prime Minister then u-turned and admitted that foreign doctors won’t have to leave the NHS.
- Foreign Worker Registers. Amber Rudd announced at Conservative party conference that firms should “be clear about the proportion of their workforce which is international”. Theresa May was forced to u-turn after the scheme was slammed by businesses and the public.
- Pharmacy closures. Plans to implement £170m of cuts and close thousands of local pharmacies were shelved after one million people signed a petition calling on the Government to think again.
- Workers on company boards. During her campaign to be leader and at the Conservative Party conference, Theresa May announced plans to force companies to appoint workers to their boards, a longstanding Liberal Democrat policy. She then confirmed that she’d dropped this following lobbying from big business.
- Brexit White Paper. After trying to keep Parliament in the dark, Theresa May finally agreed to publish a White Paper on Brexit – but only after being threatened with a rebellion by Conservative MPs.
- Taking in refugee children. Theresa May callously announced plans to shelve the scheme to take in unaccompanied refugee children from Calais that she had approved in government only months previously.
- National Insurance rise. Plans announced in Theresa May’s first full budget as Prime Minister to hike National Insurance for self-employed workers were dropped after they were criticised for breaking the Conservative’s 2015 manifesto pledge.
- Holding an election. Theresa May repeatedly said she wouldn’t hold an election, arguing that it would risk the stability of the country. She then called a snapelection when the polls were in her favour.
- The dementia tax. The Prime Minister was forced to u-turn on proposals to make people pay more for their care, branded as a “dementia tax”, within days of it being announced. Many consider this policy the reason for her dismal electoral performance.
- Energy price cap. Despite opposing it when it was a Labour Party policy, Theresa May had pledged a price cap on energy bills for 17 million families during the general election campaign, but the policy was missing from the Queen’s Speech in what seems to have constituted not just a u-turn, but an o-turn.
- The European Convention on Human Rights. The Prime Minister has long alluded to wanting to take Britain out of the ECHR – but now, defeated in the election, she changed her mind to gain the favour of other parties.
- Triple lock. Theresa May scrapped a manifesto commitment to drop the pensions ‘triple lock’ after signing a £1.5bn deal with the DUP.
- Winter fuel payments. Conservative plans to means test winter fuel payouts were also scrapped under the party’s deal with the DUP.
- Grammar schools. Theresa May ditched plans to expand grammar schools from the Queens’ Speech after being heavily criticised by people within all parties.
- Free school lunches. Controversial plans set out in the Conservative manifesto to axe free school lunches and replace them with breakfasts for families on low incomes were dropped last week after major pressure from the Liberal Democrats.
- Public sector pay. The Government made noises about ditching the 1% pay cap on public sector workers, before u-turning and saying it would remain in place anyway.
- Fox hunting. After making a free vote on the return of fox hunting a central manifesto pledge, the PM quietly ditched it after the election.