In what will no doubt come as a blow to Labour, it seems that the Tories and Lib Dems have also negotiated a coalition agreement in direct opposition to the Phoenix agreement. This move will come as a departure from Prime Minister Brain’s earlier comments on the collapse of the Burple Government where he indicated that he would lead the Tories to the opposition benches and did not intent to actively seek government. It seems now that the Tories have reversed course and chosen to negotiate a deal with the Liberal Democrats. The Telegraph has secured an exclusive copy of the document and will be breaking it down.
Taken as a whole the coalition contains many similar policies compared to the Burple agreement and the original Tory-Lib Dem deal created at the start of this term. On the economy, the agreement promises to decrease LVT by 5% and freeze VAT. Income taxes are also slated to frozen not taking into account the planned NICphase-out. They also intend to separate the NIT from the personal allowance. In addition, while the agreement says the coalition government will heed the GDP to debt ratio the deal makes no concrete plans to cut the nation’s debt or limit new borrowing.
On foreign policy, the deal, for the most part, is boring with promises to work with the D12 to stand up to aggressive actors such as China. They also intend to look into Taiwan’s participation in organizations that dont require formal recognition of statehood and accept Japan into the Five Eyes. Perhaps the most interesting part of their foreign policy section is the noncommitment of any action on Chagos. In what will come as a low to more liberal Lib Dems the manifesto simply promises to review the situation in the Chagos Islands by 2036 effective washing all responsibility for the islands from the Clegg government and all but ensuring that no action will be taken at least in this term.
On defense, it seems that the Clegg government will hold course, committing to investing a further 11 billion pounds into the armed forces. Perhaps more interestingly is the policy to create an international treaty concerning cyber warfare in order to define and regulate the use of such attacks in the realm of cybersecurity. The deal also mentions talking with other NATO members to consider cyber-attacks part of Article 5 a move sure to heighten tensions with nations like Russia and China and call into question what defines an attack on the nation given that thousands of cyberattacks are carried by nations both in NATO and outside of it.
In the Department for Business, Digital, Energy, and Industry the deal promises continue to guard against security threats and continued to develop the skills wallet. The deal further promises government investment into 5G infrastructure but does not mention the Liberal Democrats Celluar Infasycture bill which aims to nationalize cell networks and increase investment of 5G tech to the tune of over 50 billion pounds. On the topic of international trade, the deal promise sot negotiates free trade deals with the European Union but has zero details on a Brexit deal or policy, perhaps hinting at the fact that they failed to reach a consensus on the issue.
On education, it seems that the Liberal Democrats have backtracked from several of their stances. The deal promises to continue streamlining Universal Childcare and support teachers. Most notably on education, the Liberal Democrats who were vocal on opposing the Burple government push for grammar schools seem to have retreated. Despite being first in line to oppose grammar schools, the Clegg government document promises to lift the restrictions on new grammar schools and seeks to promote school choice on if they wish to be an academy or LEA run. Moreso, failing schools will be encouraged to become academies according to the coalition document as well.
On the environment, it seems further concessions were made by the Liberal Democrats with the Clegg government promising a carbon-neutral date of 2050 far later than the date of 2030 or 35 that the Liberal Democrats had previously pushed for. They further will not support a ban on diesel cars until 2035 but will mandate carbon-neutral homes by 2028. The Clegg deal also plans to scrap fossil fuels subsides expect for heat rates. This section does not mention a ban on off-shore drilling or fracking leaving those two in uncertainty.
On transport, the government promises to not fund any more projects that are not sustainable. HS2 will continue ahead and the possibility of a Northern Powerhouse Railway shall be examined in what is sure to puzzle some observers. However, privatization of the rail sector is to steam ahead, with a planned runway expansion at Heathrow airport, with the possibility of more expansions at Gatwick.
Furthermore, the Clegg government plans to repeal the Direct Democracy Act in a move that is sure to opposed by the LPUK and Labour. With what seems to a sizable part of the Commons if not a majority opposing the repeal it seems such an effort will be vain and it will share the same fate of the previous B1102 which has already failed.
Regarding the composition of the cabinet, the split seems to be Burple but with the Tories taking more of the Grand 4 in the form of Foreign Secretary and with the addition of the Secretary for Intl Development which shall be held by the Liberal Democrats. Obviously, Brain will become Prime Minister and Lib Dem Leader shall be DPM. The Tories will take Home Secretary, Defense Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Intl Trade, Justice, Environment, and Transport. The Lib Dems will get the Exchequer, CMS, Education, Business and Energy, Wales, and Scotland. With a split of 20-10 for the Tories, it seems the Lib Dems got short-changed with regards to cabinet in terms of a sheer number of positions and the assignment of prominent roles.
Also of note is that while Lib DL NorthernWomble was a signatory to the Phoenix Deal, he is not signed off on the Clegg deal perhaps incitation of drift within the Liberal Democrats regarding this deal. Having seen the cabinet split, and concession made by the Liberal Democrats it seems to be seen if this deal will be passed by the Liberal Democrats. Overall for British politics, it shows that Tories don’t intend to sit out of government for the rest of the term making Labour leadership a bit nervous about the results of their own deal. The ball is now with the Liberal Democrats: which deal will they pick and are they internal drifts on the Clegg deal? The fate of the next government hangs in the balance.
Tres Commas is a senior writer for the Telegraph