That screeching you can hear in Westminster is the sound of the Number 10 desperately trying to change the subject from the Government’s plans to stop the boat crossings in the Channel to somewhere where it feels it can beat Labour: tax cuts.
Rishi Sunak and his team might have emerged battered and bruised, but ultimately successful by pushing their Rwanda plan through the House of Commons.
But more problems are just around the corner with peers expected to do all they can to water down the legislation and force ministers to restore the plan to the one passed in the Commons with a 44-seat majority.
The Rwanda Bill is expected to start to be debated in the Lords next month and in the meantime peers have today been debating whether they stop the Treaty enabling the plan from being ratified until Rwanda is a ‘safe’ country.
Rishi Sunak is keen to move the agenda onto tax cuts
Number 10 was dismissive of this attempt to frustrate plan with officials saying that it won’t have any bearing on the first planes taking off (still in the “spring” according to 10 Downing Street).
But anger over small boat crossing is unlikely to dissipate with hundreds of migrant crossings last week and fresh concern that allowing them to work when they get here will encourage more to make the crossing.
Little wonder then that the Government wants to talk about is tax – and accordingly both the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt have been doing their bit to start the debate.
Sunak dropped hints about tax cuts yesterday’s Sun on Sunday, saying: “Where we can, we will always prioritise tax cuts to put more of people’s money back in their pockets.”
Jeremy Hunt said tax cuts is a priority
Elsewhere, Hunt wrote for both the Mail on Sunday and today’s Conservative Home website promising cuts, writing in ConHome: “Election year is the time when the choice between the two parties crystalises into its sharpest form.
“If I were forced now to predict where that will end up, I would submit this: Conservatives proposing a path to lower taxes, and Labour pretending they wouldn’t raise them.”
This all builds to Friday which is pay day for millions of Britons when many will benefit from the Government’s on average £450 a head cut in National Insurance.
A confidence that the party can go into the next election promising more tax cuts is why the Conservatives are repeatedly asking how Labour will fund its £28billion a year commitment for green energy (Labour says that it will not break its fiscal rules to fund the commitment).
That’s why – for now – the Government wants to talk about tax and not small boats. It will only be a short respite though as small boats starts to rise up the political agenda again as the peers start their work.