It’s only July, but we can already say that 2017 has been the year of the U-turn in British politics. Even the general election itself was a major volte-face on the part of Theresa May – who had repeatedly promised that Britain would not go to the ballot box until 2020.
FactCheck takes a look at 10 key Tory U-turns since the election was called.
18 May – Pensions
The Tories said they would drop the pensions triple lock, and downgrade it to a ‘double lock’. That’s a U-turn on a manifesto commitment from 2015.
18 May – Winter Fuel Payments
The Conservatives said they would means-test Winter Fuel Payments. In other words, it would no longer be a universal entitlement for pensioners. That also reversed a manifesto pledge from 2015.
22 May – “Dementia tax”
This is one of the quickest U-turns we’ve seen. The Tories announced new reforms to the social care system in their 2017 manifesto, published on 18 May. Just four days later, they issued a ‘clarifying’ statement that effectively backtracked on the policy.
20 June – Brexit negotiations
The government quietly changed its mind on the sequencing of Brexit negotiations. The government had said that they wanted to agree the terms of Britain’s future relationship with the EU before getting on to the divorce arrangements. The EU said they wanted negotiations to run in opposite order. And the government unexpectedly capitulated to the EU’s demands.
22 June – Energy price cap
In May, the Conservatives said that they would introduce a cap on energy costs. But by the time of the Queen’s Speech in June, that policy seemed to have gone AWOL.
26 June – Pensions (again)
This is of the government’s 360 degree turns. In 2015, the Tories said the pensions triple lock was safe. In May 2017, they said it wasn’t. In June 2017, they decided to reinstate it. The announcement was made in the Conservative-DUP deal.
26 June – Winter Fuel Payments (again)
Another O-turn from the Tories here, again courtesy of the DUP deal. This time, we saw the Conservatives’ plan to means-test Winter Fuel Payments had been dropped.
28 June – Public sector pay (twice in one day)
The Tories appeared muddled on this. There were hints from senior figures in the party that the government would review the 1 per cent public sector pay cap. By that afternoon, Number 10 said that was not the case.
29 June – Abortions for Northern Irish women
Earlier this year, Jeremy Hunt fought a Supreme Court case defending the government’s decision not to fund abortions for Northern Irish women. But on 29 June, the government agreed to reverse its position.
4 July – Free school lunches
The Tories said in May that they would scrap free school lunches for infants. But in July, they reversed that decision.