Growing up I was an avid fan of The Simpsons, and it was always particularly funny when the family was on a trip with Bart and Lisa repeatedly shouting “Are we there yet?” at an ever-more frustrated Homer.
For everyone bar the most fervent political wonks and hacks, the EU referendum has become a bit like one of those journeys in The Simpsons. You could be forgiven for thinking screams of “Are we there yet?” are about to become part of the national psyche. Thankfully we’re now (cue trumpets) in the final 30 days of the campaign.
So, with a chink of light at the end of what’s been a very long tunnel, what can we expect from Westminster post the referendum. Doubtless the fallout of the fracturing of the Conservatives will be a staple of the national press – whether or not it involves David Cameron remaining as party leader or Prime Minister. But, once the referendum’s taken place, what else will we have to talk about?
Renewal of Trident
We know the parliamentary vote on renewing the nuclear deterrent in coming. And after months of cannibalising themselves over Europe, the Tories will likely seize upon the opportunity to turn the focus to an issue on which Labour is seriously divided.
The parliamentary mathematics suggest Trident will be renewed, even though the cost will likely be eye-watering. But after their European travails, the Conservatives will be anxious to put the staunchly anti-Trident Jeremy Corbyn in the crosshairs and see if he’s capable of preventing a similar meltdown within his party. Mr Corbyn has promised Labour MPs a free vote on Trident. But the issue could still prompt some very bitter disputes.
The Chilcot Report is published (finally)
Some seven years and millions of words after it was first commissioned, the Chilcot Inquiry will finally publish its report. The publication will be a blockbuster for the national media and will be guaranteed headlines for days if not weeks on end. Indications are the report will be highly critical of Tony Blair, Jack Straw and various of the then-military leaders. Could there be further ramifications? Only time will tell, but after years of delays, the publication of the report will likely be something of a relief to many involved in the Iraq War and their families – although it could equally raise as many questions as answers.
The Childhood Obesity strategy is published (also finally)
The Childhood Obesity Strategy was originally scheduled for publication in late 2015. Then it was early 2016. Then it was during the spring. Then … you get the idea.
The document is hotly anticipated by medical and public health professionals, and will be forensically examined by everyone from charities to the Health Select Committee, and everyone in between. It will challenge the Government to make some tough decisions – potentially including restrictions on advertising (although industry has started moving towards a watershed on junk food advertising to children on its own) – many of which pose ideological problems for members of the Cabinet.
The big question after so many delays will be does the strategy go far enough?
Jeremy Hunt vs junior doctors: round 2
The BMA will ballot junior doctors in early July on the revised contract proposed by the Department of Health after last ditch negotiations at ACAS. Many junior doctors have been outspoken in their criticism of both the revised contract and the BMA’s willingness to put it to a ballot.
The contract may well be accepted, but the ill-feeling amongst junior doctors to the Health Secretary will linger for far longer. And if the vote is against the contract, Jeremy Hunt will be back to square one. And it’ll be difficult to see where he’ll be able to go without having to back down to doctors’ demands.
Can George beat the deficit?
New figures published today by the Office National Statistics revealed George Osborne managed to reduce the amount Britain borrowed last month. Unfortunately, the Chancellor missed his annual targets by more than previously thought.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies this morning claimed that a leave vote in the referendum could result in two extra years of austerity. But the Chancellor’s continued difficulties to lower the deficit likely mean we’ve not seen the last of public spending cuts by a long chalk. The question will be where Mr Osborne can find remaining savings – and whether missing his targets (and assuming his side wins the referendum) deals a fatal blow to his long-term leadership ambitions.