EXCL Theresa May defied Tory MPs to launch 'legacy spending spree'

Posted On: 
21st June 2019

Theresa May launched a multi-billion pound spending spree aimed at securing her legacy as Prime Minister despite being warned not to by Tory MPs, PoliticsHome has learned.

Theresa May is keen to leave a legacy when she stands down as Prime Minister.
PA Images

Government whips canvassed the opinion of Conservative MPs and the response was "uniformly negative", according to one minister.

Nevertheless, Mrs May has pressed ahead with a series of major announcements as she enters her final month in Downing Street.

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They include high-profile pledges on mental health support, as well as a vow to slash carbon emissions in the UK to net-zero by 2050 - despite a warning from Philip Hammond that it will cost £1trillion.

The Chancellor is also fiercely resisting Mrs May's plan to boost education spending by a staggering £27bn.

It was reported earlier this week that Mr Hammond was even considering resigning over the issue.

Now it has emerged that the Prime Minister was warned by her own MPs that she should not using taxpayers' cash in an attempt to burnish her reputation.

The minister said: "The whips asked us all a few weeks ago what we thought about it and they were told by everyone that it was a bad idea.

"It's just very selfish and a clear attempt to tie the hands of her successor. She should not be doing it, it's as simple as that."

In a swipe at Mrs May's chief of staff and former Tory MP Gavin Barwell, the minister added: "What's she going to announce next - a mission to Mars? We could maybe call it the Barwell Probe."

According to the Press Association, Number 10 is urging the Treasury to draw on funds from the £26.6bn war chest set aside for a Brexit "deal dividend" to fund the spending spree.

Mr Hammond has already pledged that a full three-year government Spending Review will look again at departmental budgets before the summer recess and "reflect the public’s priorities between areas like social care, local government, schools, police, defence and the environment".

But he said the "deal dividend" would depend on MPs making sure Britain could "leave the EU with a deal and an orderly transition to a future economic partnership".