Robert Peston Robert Peston

Will Johnson’s cabinet of cardboard cutouts make a stand?

Cabinet government has become a very degraded thing. When I checked last night, cabinet ministers had still not been told whether the PM’s planned breaches of his 2019 manifesto would even be on the formal agenda for discussion at the 8.30 a.m. cabinet meeting today. But as of last night, Boris Johnson is going ahead with:

  1. a manifesto-breaking 1.25 per cent National Insurance hike to raise around £10 billion and fill the £15 billion hole in health and social care provision;
  2. a new cap-and-floor system, based on Dilnot, to limit to roughly £80,000 the amount an individual would have to contribute to their own care (the cap) and to protect approximately £100,000 of their savings from any care costs (the floor);
  3. a temporary waiver, which will require legislation, of the manifesto-guaranteed ‘triple lock’ on increments to the state old-age pension, because this year’s earnings index would mean pensions going up by an exceptional 8 per cent or so.

All of this is massive politics. But there has been zero cabinet discussion of it to date. It has all been stitched up by Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid.

The cabinet ministers of the 1980s, 1990s and even the early years of this century would not have stood for being treated as cardboard cutouts — Potemkin ministers — in this manner. Will any of them will say boo?

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