Westminster is preparing for the Tory conference and Ben Brogan reports that a confident mood pervades the blue
camp. The positive briefings have begun. The Guardian reveals that the speed limit on motorways is to be raised from 70 MPH to 80 MPH. This is a victory for Transport Secretary Philip Hammond over
recalcitrant forces in Whitehall and the Health and Climate Change Secretaries. The Guardian adds that several welfare announcements will be made. It’s also likely that there’ll be
further initiatives relating to the riots, perhaps inspired by Labour’s concerted
assault on law and order.
Meanwhile, the Eurozone crisis continues. Angela Merkel passed the controversial expansion of the EFSF this morning. Continental markets reacted well, but the possibility of an implosion remains, especially as talks over the next round of debt recapitalisation appears to
have become mired in political difficulties.
The spectre of collapse will haunt the Tory conference, just as it did the Labour and Lib Dem conferences. With the economy floundering and domestic reforms under pressure, the government can
ill-afford Europe to distract attention from its conference, where it will be restating its policies to the country. Our interview with
William Hague in the latest issue of the Spectator illustrates that this will be extremely difficult, perhaps more so than it was for Labour. Governments are often forced to talk about matters
they can’t control; it’s a paradox of power.
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