Saturday, March 19, 2016

The EU Referendum 5 - A big shout from the quiet man

Much to everyone's surprise, Iain Duncan Smith resigned from his high ranking post in charge of Work and Pensions, citing differences over how to implement welfare cuts following the Budget on Wednesday. Smith, who described himself as the "quiet man" way back when he was struggling to assert himself as leader of the Conservative Party, is conventionally seen as a right-winger and disciple of the blessed Margaret. Yet he has chosen to go out in defence of welfare spending that favours some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Britain. This either
  • Marks him out as a genuine "one-nation" Tory, as distinct from the Cameron/Osborne brand of "soak the poor and pander to the rich" politics; or
  • is a cunning plan to split the party even further in advance of the EU referendum; or
  • both of the above (?)
It seems a little strange that someone opposed to membership of the EU should espouse views that chime in well with the broad strand of welfare/worker support that underpins much of EU social policy. Be that as it may, Smith did not need to resign in order to campaign for the No vote - Cabinet responsibility has already been waived in this regard. But a resignation will shake the confidence of the party in its leaders. Will this therefore strengthen the Nay-sayers? I shall watch developments with great interest.

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