Theresa May is just one day into her new job as the UK’s prime minister but already a rift is starting to appear between herself and a formidable member of the party.
When news broke on Thursday morning of George Osborne’s departure from the cabinet, initial reports indicated that the former Chancellor of the Exchequer had been sacked by May as part of a decisive reshuffle.
However, friends of Osborne are “furious” because they claim it was actually the MP for Tatton who made the first move by submitting his resignation to the new prime minister, according to the Times newspaper.
“If that is how Mrs May wants to stamp her authority then so be it,” an unnamed friend of Osborne told The Times. “She has every right to pick her own football team. But she has a majority of 12 and no room to make enemies. The shabby way they [Osborne and others] have been treated suggests she’s already made a few.”
Osborne — along with former Justice Secretary Michael Gove and former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan — made up a handful of senior Tory ministers who were axed as part of a bold cabinet reshuffle. But the manner in which the former Chancellor was moved on appears to have sparked an internal row just hours into May’s premiership.
The conflicting reports over Osborne’s departure are not the first signs of hostility between the former Chancellor and May, though. In a speech May gave in Birmingham on Monday, she appeared to take an indirect swipe at Osborne’s economic policies.
Here is part of the speech where May addresses her plans for Britain’s economy (emphasis ours):
“But today, I want to talk about my plans to reform the economy so that it really does work for everyone. Because it is apparent to anybody who is in touch with the real world that people do not feel our economy works that way at all. Talk to almost any ordinary member of the public, and the frustration they feel about the loss of control over their day-to-day lives is obvious.”
An economy that works for everyone, so we don’t just maintain economic confidence and steer the country through challenging times — but we make sure that everyone can share in the country’s wealth.
In fact, if you take a look at the speech in full, May claims that the economy and the country’s political system as a whole doesn’t “work for everyone” on countless occasions. It effectively forms the basis of her pitch. It is evident that the prime minister has some clear issues with how the economy has been managed over the last few years — a task that Osborne was responsible for.
But, it doesn’t end there. A Financial Times article published earlier this week suggested that Osborne was far from impressed by May’s vision for the country’s economy even prior to his departure. The former Chancellor was concerned about remaining in an “economically illiterate” cabinet, one of his aides told the FT.
The appointment of May as David Cameron’s successor was generally received well across the Conservative Party. However, the former Home Secretary’s capacity for party management could be tested in just the first few weeks of her reign.
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