Will the Spending Review Spark a Resignation?

This Wednesday sees the Spending Review, when we discover where unfunded over-spending will stop. We are told that some ministers still have not agreed a budget. Vince Cable at Business, Michael Gove at Education, Theresa May at the Home Office, Ken Clarke at Justice and IDS at Work and Pensions – though he is said to be close to doing a deal with the Treasury.

It is barely conceivable that Gove would resign – he is a core member of the Cameron project and education is where the government intends to have made a reforming impact before the 2015 election. So no matter what he’ll still be in office on Thursday. Theresa May has the professional politician’s ability to accept and argue her brief no matter what – she is not one for political heroism – so expect her to remain facing Balls across the dispatch box for now. IDS has reportedly got most of what he wanted, he has a habit of threatening to resign more often than Mrs Fawkes threatens divorce. Unless Osborne double-crosses him at the last moment, IDS will stay put.

That leaves Ken Clarke at Justice, the bookies give him a 5% chance of being the next to resign, he could make a glorious end of career stand. He would go without much acclaim, the Treasury has run a successful briefing operation against him and Crispin Blunt, painting the liberal Justice team as soft on criminals and wanting more money for better meals for prisoners. Guido thinks it only worth a flutter if you like 20/1 long shots…

Vince Cable, is once again the bookies favourite to resign next – replacing Liam Fox who has successfully played his defence budget cards. In truth this is Vince’s last chance to exit the government with honour. As it is he permanently looks like he has swallowed a bee, if he wants to save his “progressive” reputation this is the rubicon, after he accepts the policies that derive from the terms of the Spending Review he can’t later turn back. A big decision, he is a vain old man, he’ll probably never have another chance to be in government. Is he really that principled?

Guido thinks there is a good chance that a LibDem lower down the juniour ministerial ranks will seek to make a name for themselves and lay down a marker for the future.  Smarkets have a bet on any government minister, at any level, resigning on Wednesday. Currently punters give it a 15% (11/2) probability. That looks worth a few quid…




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