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Christmas is almost upon us but the Tories haven’t taken it upon themselves to spread much cheer.
Possibly hoping people will be too wrapped up in the festive spirit to notice, here’s 6 of the most alarming things they’ve done during the holiday season.
1. “Clobbered” families with a rise in council tax
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed that English councils will be allowed to raise council tax by up to 2 per cent in 2021/22, on top of a 3 per cent rise in social care precepts.
Labour warned that the above-inflation hike could “clobber hard-working families” trying to survive the economic impacts of the pandemic and will result in less money for poorer areas.
2. Encouraged aspiring politicians to spread Trump-style fake news
Tips for “wannabe politicians” in a Wellingborough Conservative Association newsletter reportedly included advice like:
“Say the first thing that comes into your head – it’ll probably be nonsense, you may get a bad headline, but if you make enough dubious claims fast enough, you can get away with it”
“Sometimes it’s better to give the wrong answer at the right time, rather than the right answer at the wrong time.”
Boris Johnson refused to say whether he was the author or the inspiration for the newsletter when asked by Keir Starmer at PMQs.
3. Moved the commission on child poverty into the cabinet office
The Social Mobility Commission, which publishes an annual report on issues related to child poverty and education, was set up as an independent, non-departmental public body.
But, while the government promises they’ll continue to keep it at “arm’s length”, they’re relocating it to the cabinet office.
This comes shortly after it was revealed that disadvantaged children in the UK will receive support from UN charity Unicef for the first time.
4. Left people potentially vulnerable to enormous hospital bills
After the Brexit transition period, EHICs (European Health Insurance Cards) will no longer protect Brits from hefty hospital bills if they receive treatment in Europe.
The government has agreed to cover the cost for patients undergoing regular dialysis, oxygen therapy or some types of chemotherapy in Europe – but only for a year.
Beyond that, Brits will have to pay unless the government can reach agreements with individual member states or strike a deal with the EU as a whole in coming days.
5. Scrapped unconscious bias training and called issues like racism and sexism “fashionable”
Minister for women and equalities, Liz Truss, caused outrage by claiming “the equality debate” is dominated by “fashion” not “facts”.
In a speech that the government has since removed from their website, she claimed that people are letting themselves be defined by characteristics like their race, gender and sexuality.
On top of this, the Tories have ended unconscious bias training for the civil service and could push back on diversity quotas and schemes too.
6. Failed to reach a deal with the EU (yet)
Okay, the Tories probably aren’t trying to keep this one quiet: after almost five years of back-and-forth Brexit negotiations, people are probably going to notice if they fail to reach a trade deal.
But Johnson and the Tories repeatedly promised that that wouldn’t happen and, although all hope isn’t quite lost, it is certainly dwindling as the transition period’s end is now less than a fortnight away.
So there you have it: this is what the Tories’s “merry Christmas” looks like to round off 2020.
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