David Blackburn

Hughes and Davis fomenting rebellion?

Hughes and Davis fomenting rebellion?
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From opposing sides of the coalition's strait, two warning shots have been fired across the government's bows. David Davis has challenged Theresa May’s decision to renew the 28-day detention limit for six months pending a review. And Simon Hughes has declared that he and a like-minded posse will seek to amend ‘unfair’ aspects of the Finance Bill.

Neither is an outright revolt. Neither move amounts to what Ed Miliband termed ‘cracks appearing in the coalition’. Both Davis and Hughes remain in support of the coalition agreement – Hughes will ‘support the Budget’, and Davis, to his enormous credit, has made excessive and illiberal detention periods his raison d’être. The coalition will shrug; confident that their legislation will pass without being trimmed. Hughes’ immediate threat is probably greater, but watching the Lib Dem reaction to the Budget and speaking to government sources I doubt Hughes will muster enough dissent to worry the coalition’s whips, even with Labour’s support.

Yet all conflicts have their warning signals. Politics Home has published a poll into the public’s response to the Budget. Osborne’s measures have been cordially received, but the VAT hike and the freeze on tobacco and alcohol duties are considered ‘unwise’, if not unpopular. More serious parliamentary revolts will form around these two marginal talismen as the coalition's honeymoon ends and compromise deepens.