The PM’s first year
Thu 1 Oct 2020
By Mel Stride
The first task facing Boris in July 2019 was to break the deadlock in parliament over Brexit. He successfully renegotiated a deal with the EU – which many commentators and opponents said would be impossible – and although it passed through the Commons his proposed timetable didn’t, so he went to the country for our first December General Election since 1923. Staunch Labour seats in the north fell like dominoes as Boris led the Conservatives to victory in parts of the country that even a few years ago would have been thought of as impregnable. Boris had his majority and the paralysis was over. His Withdrawal Agreement Bill was approved before Christmas and on 31st January we left the EU.
On domestic policy, the last twelve months has seen the Government provide the largest cash increase in the National Living Wage and plans for the largest cash boost for the NHS in its history (which I worked on closely when I was a Treasury minister) were implemented. There are now 13,500 more nurses and 7,800 more doctors working in the NHS compared to 12 months ago. Education funding – an issue I have campaigned on for over a decade – was increased by £14.4 billion over three years and Devon was one of the biggest gainers, receiving a 4.9% increase in per pupil funding worth over £200 per pupil. Police forces were given their largest funding boost in a decade and 4,000 more officers have been recruited in the past 12 months. These significant funding increases were made possible due to the strength of the UK economy, with unemployment at the lowest level in 45 years.
Then coronavirus struck. We were plunged into a global health crisis and a global economic crisis not seen since the Second World War with the PM narrowly surviveing Covid-19 himself. Unprecedented packages of support for employers and employees were rapidly rolled out (more than 10,000 employees in Central Devon have had 80% of their wages covered and 5,000 more self-employed workers have benefited from similar support). But I remain concerned that a minority of people continue to fall through the gaps and have quizzed both the PM and Chancellor directly about this through my chairmanship of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee. The PM has also recently announced that our hard-working teachers, police and prison officers, doctors and other vital public sector workers will receive inflation-busting pay rises.
It is safe to say that few Prime Ministers have faced a more difficult first twelve months and no doubt a number of mistakes will have been made during this crisis. Future inquiry is the time to consider this. In the meantime I think it is time for us to try our best whatever our political persuasion to pull together as part of a collective effort to support local communities and bring us through alive and whole the other side.
For more from Mel follow him on twitter @MelJStride or visit www.melstridemp.com.
Other columns by Mel Stride
Quizzing the PM - Tue 7 Jul 2020
It’s the economy, stupid! - Tue 11 Feb 2020
Vision for the Future - Mon 2 Dec 2019
Into the Cabinet - Thu 1 Aug 2019
Local Apprenticeships Matter - Fri 3 May 2019
Huge shot in the arm for our High Streets - Thu 24 Jan 2019
Reading - Thu 8 Nov 2018
EU - In or Out? - Mon 11 Mar 2013
Opportunity. - Tue 22 Jan 2013
Where do we begin? - Tue 13 Nov 2012
To Infinity and Beyond - Wed 5 Sep 2012
Working in Westminster - Sun 1 Jul 2012
A Better Balance - Thu 5 Jan 2012
Capital Shame - Mon 7 Nov 2011
Olympic Feat... - Sun 11 Sep 2011
The Coalition - A year on - Mon 11 Jul 2011
Labour Dreams - Sun 17 Apr 2011
Now we really must mean Business - Thu 10 Mar 2011
Freedom and Responsibility - Sun 9 Jan 2011
A leader for Labour - Thu 4 Nov 2010
Education and Freedom - Mon 6 Sep 2010
Tradition and Words - Mon 6 Sep 2010
Mel Stride - Early Days in Westminster - Tue 6 Jul 2010
Mel Stride Conservative Parliamentary Candidate on The Big Society - Mon 3 May 2010
A look back over my years as Conservative parliamentary candidate and contributor to The Cottage - Sun 28 Feb 2010
Building the homes of the Future means giving Power to the People - Thu 3 Dec 2009
Early memories... - Wed 4 Nov 2009
As General Franco lay dying... - Tue 20 Oct 2009