Theresa May just eviscerated another one of Boris Johnson’s policies in parliament

Joshua Zitser
Friday 09 October 2020 07:00
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Theresa May is back and she’s a continuing to be a thorn in the government’s side.

May has generally kept a low profile since standing down as PM but has, on occasion, stuck it to the government.

Yesterday, she did just that. May launched a fierce attack on Boris Johnson and his cabinet over a planned housing shakeup.

So what’s Theresa May angry about?

Boris Johnson’s government has proposed a housebuilding scheme which could see the construction of 5m new homes across England over the next 15 years.

The move would replace local planning controls with an algorithm that would distribute homes across the country.

The algorithm, according to critics, could grant planning permissions that ignore the fact that some areas are protected or incapable of being built on it.

Generally speaking, algorithms are now viewed with scepticism after the exam fiasco over the summer and this government policy is widely unpopular.

Almost 150,000 have signed a petition protesting this proposal.

A handful of Tory backbenchers have also condemned the move. May is one of them.

What did Theresa May say about it?

May sparked a Tory rebellion during a debate on Thursday with a devastating takedown of the policy.

She said:

The problem with these proposals, the problem with this algorithm on housing numbers, is that it doesn’t guarantee a single extra home being built.

Far from levelling up, it forces more investment into London and the south. It is a mechanistic approach and it is ill-conceived.

May continued:

“We need to reform the planning system. We need to make sure that the planning system sees the right number of homes being built in the right places. But we won’t do that by removing local democracy, cutting the number of affordable homes that will be built and building over rural areas. 

Yet, that is exactly what those reforms will lead to. We do need, as I say, to build more homes but we won’t do that by forcing local authorities to grant more planning permissions to developers so they can build more homes to bring the price down because developers simply won’t do it.

How did the government respond?

Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson did not respond to May’s comments.

They did, however, say that “unnecessary delays to the planning system are stopping us from building a better Britain.”

The spokesperson added: “Communities are missing out on new schools and hospitals and better roads and the next generation will be deprived of the chance to buy their own homes if we cannot build many more well-designed, high-quality houses and flats.

That’s why we must reform the planning system to cut red tape and make the system faster while ensuring councils and local people can decide where developments should and shouldn’t go.”

What did people make of May’s rebellious moment?

In short, many people agree with the former prime minister. In fact, they’re shocked that they agree.

We're shocked that even a Liberal Democrat account agrees with her. Who could have predicted that?

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