David Cameron will use the Conservative Party’s first majority in the House of Commons for nearly 20 years to “deliver” on a radical agenda to cut welfare, shrink the size of the state and re-define Britain’s relationship with Europe.
Conservative insiders said Mr Cameron would move to the right to consolidate support among his backbench MPs after five years of compromise with the Liberal Democrats.
Among Mr Cameron’s first legislative priorities will be to enshrine an EU referendum into law, bring in the so-called ‘snoopers charter’ to give police greater powers to monitor internet communications and give English MPs a veto over legislation only affecting England. The Tories also intend to publish plans to scrap the Human Rights Act within their first 100 days. All proposals had been previously blocked by the Lib Dems.
Downing Street announced the top four Tory jobs in Government will all remain unchanged. Theresa May, Philip Hammond and Michael Fallon will remain in post while George Osborne is re-appointed Chancellor. He also replaces William Hague as Mr Cameron’s de facto deputy and is also expected to have a key role in defining Britain’s stance on renegotiating its position in the EU.
But the first challenge for Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne will be to put together a comprehensive spending review in the next few months to meet the Tory pledge of eliminating the structural deficit by 2018.
As well as deep welfare cuts The Independent understands that the Department of Business and the Department of Energy and Climate Change, previously run by the Lib Dems, will be among the biggest casualties in terms of spending reductions.
Oliver Letwin, the Tories’ policy chief, has spent the campaign in Whitehall drawing up proposals to merge quangos and slash Government regulation. These are likely to form a key part of the spending review. The review has been made more difficult by Mr Cameron’s late and unexpected election pledge to find an extra £8bn for the NHS. This has yet to be funded and if the Tories stick to their other tax and spending commitments could require further cuts. Most senior Tories had expected to be negotiating another coalition agreement with the Liberal Democrats, giving them the flexibility to raise taxes to fund their additional spending commitments. As it is they are now bound to implement legislation binding the Government not to increase income tax, national insurance or VAT rates for the next five years.
Preparations will get under way in Whitehall to draw up comprehensive demands to be put to other European leaders to form the basis of a renegotiation of Britain’s EU membership. This is unlikely to be easy. Mr Cameron will have to tread a path between what the rest of Europe is prepared to concede in terms of migrant benefit restrictions and reclaiming powers from Brussels, and what is acceptable to his own Eurosceptics.
And Europe will not be the only issue where Mr Cameron will face problems from his own backbenchers.
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