BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH

What an untimely disaster!

The Conservative party has shot itself in the foot at a time when it was riding high, despite having to face a gruelling few months to come trying to negotiate a difficult Brexit deal where no one can predict the outcome.

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Now in total disarray, following Philip Hammond’s worst possible budget, which clearly shows the Conservatives are no longer seen as a party of low taxation by unwisely engineering a raid on the self-employed, as well as clumsily giving the impression that the Treasury has clearly lost its way in going nowhere that makes sense. A new poll for the Daily Telegraph shows just one in four now regards the Tories as a low tax party, while almost half of those polled say they trust the Conservative less as a result of Mr Hammond’s budget.

More than half of voters – 55% – say Theresa May should have honoured her party’s manifesto pledge not to raise taxes. Figures on voting intentions are equally worrying for the Prime Minister, with almost half of those questioned saying they are less likely to vote Tory because of the budget, including one in seven Conservative voters.

The extent to which the budget has damaged trust in the Conservative brand is detailed in a ComRes poll of 1,021 adults carried out last week. Asked whether they agreed that ‘the Conservative party is no longer a low tax party,’ 49.5% of voters agreed, with just 26% disagreeing. On the question of whether the budget made them trust the Conservatives less, 47% said it did, while 40% said they trusted Mrs May less as a result. Fewer than half of those questioned – 44% – thought Mr Hammond should carry on as Chancellor, with 55% saying Mrs May should have honoured her party’s manifesto pledge not raise National Insurance.

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All this mess will certainly not help the Tories at this crucial time. It’s very disappointing to realise that such a division within the ranks of the government will impede the Prime Minister in resolving any hiccups she’s likely to encounter in the weeks ahead.

And believe it or not, no plain sailing is anticipated once the negotiations with the EU begin in earnest. We need a united front to make the right impact and to send a message to the world that Britain is determined in its quest to gain the independence the narrow majority in our country has clearly indicated.

Yet that determination must nevertheless always be shown in a measured and sensible way, bereft of any self-defeating dogma that will lessen our influence in the world.

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