May Orders Ministers to Link Every Policy to Meritocracy

Theresa May’s grammar schools speech was as much about defining her premiership as anything else. If eagle-eyed photographer Steve Back hadn’t snapped those secret government papers outlining the return of grammars, today’s speech would not have been made until conference. Senior Tories watching noted one key line:

“It will mean recalibrating how we approach policy development to ensure that everything we do as government helps to give a fair chance to those who are just getting by”

This is tanks-on-Labour’s-lawn rhetoric, but the PM is deadly serious about revamping how policy is formulated across Whitehall. Over the last few weeks ministers and civil servants have grown frustrated at Downing Street’s insistence that every single policy must have a “making the country work for everyone” angle. Policies and announcements that have nothing to do with May’s theme of meritocracy are being delayed or shunned until ministers can think of a way to make a link. In some departments, announcements and updates on old projects where the money has already been spent are being held back. As with Brexit, the government is actually getting work done, they just aren’t telling the public about it…


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