June’s election shook up Westminster politics. Against all expectations, Labour gained seats and Jeremy Corbyn began to look like a prime minister in waiting. Two moves in the last few weeks show that Labour is moving forward and the Conservatives are retreating.
Of course, the Tories have not lifted the pay cap for all public-sector workers, in what Jeremy Corbyn has called a “divide and rule” tactic, according City A.M., however, it shows that the Tories are recognising that Labour’s anti-austerity stance is cutting through to the public. Whether the pay cap lift is a genuine desire to help public sector workers or a cynical ploy to stop Labour gaining support, either way, Corbyn’s Labour is forcing the weakened government to make changes.
On top of this, the Sunday Times has reported that Philip Hammond is considering cutting tuition fees in England by £5,000. Again, whether this is a ploy to win votes from 18-25-year-olds or a plan to help students out, it shows that Labour is winning the argument on the matter.
Theresa May’s administration is a government in retreat, and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is an opposition waiting to govern. Both of these recent manoeuvres from the government suggest that Labour is forcing the government to change its position. It’s not a perfect retreat, but it points to the fact that Labour is governing from the side-lines.
The question now is: how much of a difference can Labour’s move forward affect the government’s position on Brexit?