Top Tory MP: Theresa May too overloaded with Brexit to tackle burning injustices

Posted On: 
7th November 2018

Theresa May has become too "overloaded" with Brexit to fully tackle the burning injustices in Britain, a top Tory has said.

Tom Tugendhat warned the Prime Minister was tied up with the Brexit process.
Paul Heartfield

Rising star Tom Tugendhat said the Government was trying to put forward ideas to match the vision the Prime Minister laid out when she first got the job.

But he said progress was happening too "softly" and the efforts that have been made already were being "drowned out" by the process of quitting the EU.

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Mrs May used her first speech on the steps of Downing Street in 2016 to pledge wide-ranging social reforms to help the poor, women and working-class people.

She said she would devote her premiership to "fighting against the burning injustices" faced by those who struggle to get on in society.

But ex-army officer Mr Tugendhat said Mrs May had become "tied up" with Brexit, while outstanding issues on poor wage growth and public investment remained.

"I think there is an opportunity for her to put her vision back before the country,” he told an event today organised by the Social Market Foundation.

"She has been drowned out. But if you look at the policies she has been delivering… or rather her government has been delivering, you see that radicalism come through. More softly than I would like, true."

The Foreign Affairs Committee chair added: "There are ideas coming forward, but it is true that the Prime Minister’s desk is rather overloaded with one major issue."


In the wide-ranging speech, the Tonbridge and Malling MP echoed concerns raised by Labour around the poor quality of utilities, railing against the "corrosive effect" of inflated pay packets for rail and water bosses, and warning that people feel they are being “taken for a ride”.

He said: “The chief executive of water and rail companies have been rewarded as if they were entrepreneurs in many cases. As if they were taking risk, as if they were putting everything on the line to innovate. But they are not, are they?"

He added: "It does call into question and make some of us wonder how our system is working. It makes many of us feel we are being taken for a ride, that the system is rigged, and that makes us all look for answers."


Mr Tugendhat also suggested the Government should consider handing out tax breaks to firms that share profits with their employees, pointing to a scheme run by baking chain Greggs.

“We can’t run an economy that just rewards the people at the top and leaves others feeling isolated,” he said.

“Isn’t it time we started to look beyond increasing the tax threshold – the lowest paid are now largely out of income tax – and thought about putting public money to work rewarding companies who reward their staff better, as Greggs do?

"Should we consider tax breaks for profit-sharing? We know the only route to higher wages is higher productivity, so shouldn’t we look to encourage bosses to invest in training?”


Asked whether the speech was a pitch for the Tory leadership, Mr Tugendhat said: "I got into politics to change my country, I got into politics because I care about the people, the communities we live in.”

He added: “I got into politics because this is my home. So, the idea that I am going to keep my mouth shut just because of what somebody… is going to write, something about whether or not it’s a leadership bid...

"It’s not a leadership bid, it’s a bid to change the country."