Cutting the police was always going to be difficult without a terror attack just before the spending review, but naturally the events in Paris have made it much more difficult for the Treasury to stand up to the Home office in a fight that was going to happen anyway.
The leaked letter from one of the most senior police officers to Theresa May warning that cutting police numbers would ‘reduce very significantly’ the UK’s ability to respond to a terror attack is very helpful indeed to the Home Secretary. So helpful that she is unlikely to be the one calling for a leak inquiry.
Similarly, Andy Burnham’s original push for the cuts to be limited to 10 per cent was sufficiently helpful for the government that David Cameron was able to latch onto it at Prime Minister’s Questions this week, suggesting that the government would try to seek some consensus with Labour, at least so that ministers could turn around and quote Burnham’s words back at him whenever he complained about the cuts. Burnham has since suggested that 5 per cent might be more acceptable, which may be a tactical move to stop the government using him too much, but it also feeds into his ‘flip-flop’ image that grew stronger during the leadership contest.
Normally Burnham has a clever knack of driving Conservative ministers to distraction with his emotive style of campaigning. But Theresa May is probably rather grateful that she’s got him as an opponent, when currently her bigger, more problematic opponent is the Chancellor.
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