2023 is still in its first quarter but the Tory government is already doing the most to mess it up.
While their intentions are doubtless good, over the last few weeks we've seen silly policy suggestions, strikes, no sign of the cost of living crisis abating and behaviour from MPs that is enough to make you gasp.
It's not ideal, to put it mildly, but the onslaught of bad news may soon turn voters off the party - even if they are rumoured to get tax breaks (more on that later).
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So - if you can stomach it - fasten yourself in and learn more about what the last few weeks of politics have done for Britain.
The new year started and the prime minister excitedly announced he had a new policy to kick things off with a bang. What could it be? An improved NHS? A solution to the cost of living crisis?
Sunak's big idea is that he'd quite like everyone to study maths until they are 18. Currently, people are subjected to the subject until they are 16.
Talk about tidying deckchairs on the Titanic...
With that policy going down like a cup of sick, he made a speech to set out his big vision for the year ahead. But it didn't go down any better and people were pretty unimpressed with his vague promises about economic growth and reducing debt.
\u201cHere\u2019s a rundown of the big things I\u2019ve been working on this week \ud83e\uddf5\n\n\u27a1\ufe0f I made 5 promises for 2023. \n\n\u2705 Halve inflation\n\u2705 Grow the economy\n\u2705 Reduce debt\n\u2705 Cut NHS waiting lists\n\u2705 Stop the boats\n\nYour priorities are my priorities.\u201d— Rishi Sunak (@Rishi Sunak) 1673036442
The prime minister was attracting criticism, then, so Zahawi took one for the team and turned attention towards him instead when he criticised Labour leader Keir Starmer for "rebranding" by appearing to purport slightly different political views in his own new year speech.
The problem? Zahawi himself "rebranded" several times this year when he initially backed Boris Johnson to return as leader of the Tory party when Liz Truss resigned, only for Johnson to pull out of the race and for Zahawi to then announce he was backing Sunak instead.
Those in glasshouses shouldn't throw stones but we would soon learn that this was the least of Zahawi's problems this year...
Particularly because if you throw stones they might hit someone and they might get injured and have to go to the hospital. This clumsy segue brings us back to Sunak and his healthcare arrangements which made headlines throughout January.
The PM refused to confirm or deny whether he used private healthcare as the NHS stumbled along until he awkwardly admitted his past use of private healthcare during the first session of PMQs this year.
People were pretty peeved about him dodging the questions initially, and being responsible for running a health service but appearing to not think it is good enough for him to use himself isn't a great look.
While Sunak was defending his healthcare, backbencher Nadine Dorries was doing what she loves best - fighting with random people on Twitter.
The former culture secretary couldn't help herself when she was criticised by a user of the social media platform and rather than engage appropriately, she mocked him for having 15 followers.
In doing so, she amplified the account which now has over 48,000 followers at the time of writing. She has since announced she won't stand to be an MP in the next election.
\[email protected] My followers have doubled now Nads. Thanks for the boost but now there\u2019s twice as many I have to discuss it with.\u201d— Rt Hon Nadine Dorries MP (@Rt Hon Nadine Dorries MP) 1673173729
Swing and a miss.
Another member of the Tory party doing his best to keep up his own personal PR is Jonathan Gullis who guzzled on his nails and fingers during a speech last week. Safe to say it revolted people on social media.
People were also annoyed at the prime minister (again) because he chose to fly to Leeds for a healthcare visit rather than take the train.
Not the best use of taxpayers' money, and not the best decision for the environment...
However, Sunak taking a plane definitely didn't cause as much of a scandal as Partygate which still keeps making headlines as fresh allegations about Boris Johnson's conduct during the infamous Downing Street events recently emerged.
The then prime minister joked to Downing Street staff “this is the most unsocially distanced party in the UK right now”, during a boozy Number 10 leaving do, ITV claimed.
Covid caused an MP to become unstuck for another reason recently. Andrew Bridgen lost his whip because of comments he made about coronavirus and the Holocaust - of all things to compare.
He tweeted that the Covid vaccine is “the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust”.
Simon Hart, the government’s chief whip, said Bridgen had “crossed a line” which caused “great offence in the process”.
“As a nation, we should be very proud of what has been achieved through the vaccine programme. The vaccine is the best defence against Covid that we have.
“Misinformation about the vaccine causes harm and costs lives. I am therefore removing the whip from Andrew Bridgen with immediate effect, pending a formal investigation.”
Anderson is another plonker in the party who could do with having his whip removed for the mere crime of winding everyone up the whole time. Despite earning the moniker "30p Lee" because of previous bad takes about the cost of living crisis, Anderson shared a picture of a value pack of ‘wheat biscuits’ cereal from Tesco on Twitter, seemingly in a bid to show how easy it is to eat for cheap during the cost of living crisis.
“Again for the doubters,” he wrote.
“6p each, just chuck on 10p worth of milk. Milk at Tesco £1.65 for 4 pints. Wait for the denial.”
Later in January, he put his foot in it AGAIN by using a member of his staff to make a political point.
Then he came out in support of the death penalty, challenged protestor Steve Bray to a boxing match, and criticised nurses who use food banks.
Somehow, he has also been made deputy chairman of the Tory party and he has got a GB News show where he will be paid very handsomely indeed...
With the maths policy failing to excite voters, Sunak went back to the drawing board and it was reported that the treasury is considering a scheme to give over 50s tax breaks if they return to work.
A senior government source reportedly told The Times, who first reported the news: "The biggest challenge we are facing is how to get people back into the workforce.
"There’s a discussion in the Treasury about how to use the tax system, whether people could be given a bigger tax allowance during the first few years they are back in work."
Because older people don't get enough perks...
Never one to shy away from a PR disaster, Braverman attracted criticism after she had a tense interaction with a survivor of the Holocaust who challenged her on her language used around immigration.
Back in October Braverman was accused of “putting lives at risk” with claims of a “migrant invasion” – especially given there was a firebomb attack on a Dover immigration centre the day before.
"When I hear you using words against refugees like ‘swarms’ and an ‘invasion’, I am reminded of the language used to dehumanise and justify the murder of my family, and millions of others," the unnamed woman said.
“Why do you find the need to use that kind of language?” she asked.
Braverman responded by saying she “won’t apologise for the language that I’ve used” to “demonstrate the scale of the problem” around immigration.
And footage of the conversation circulated on Twitter, with people condemning Braverman for her choice of language.
If that wasn't bad enough, later in February she was criticised for the way she condemned anti-migrant protests in Merseyside.
\u201cBREAKING: a Holocaust survivor just confronted Suella Braverman to say: your hateful language has consequences\u201d— Freedom from Torture\ud83e\udde1 (@Freedom from Torture\ud83e\udde1) 1673683649
Zahawi again and what a pickle he's in. It all started after sources reportedly speaking to the Sun on Sunday, said the former chancellor has agreed to pay several million pounds in tax to the authorities after a dispute over his use of an offshore company to hold shares in the polling firm YouGov.
The more than £20m shares were held through Balshore Investments, a Gibraltar-registered family trust, from which he has previously denied benefiting, and sold by 2018 to an unknown recipient.
Zahawi confirmed he had made a payment to settle a dispute with HMRC but didn't say how much he coughed up.
Since then, the row grew and Sunak asked his independent ethics adviser to look into Zahawi's tax affairs, saying there were "questions that need answering" over the case.
After the investigation was concluded, Sunak sacked him, with the Prime Minister telling the Tory chairman in a letter that it is “clear that there has been a serious breach of the Ministerial Code”.
Gareth Bacon was the latest politician to come out with divisive rhetoric about food bank users in January.
Speaking on Politics Live, when asked to explain reports that working people use the services, he said: "People will say they don't have enough money but... sometimes people will have to look at how they manage their personal finances and there's nothing wrong in that, that is not in anyway a criticism of anyone and it's not patronising to say so."
"People have to look after their personal finances, that's perfectly true," he added.
Not content with getting a fixed penalty notice for his role in Partygate, the prime minister found himself in trouble with the police in January when he was filmed in a car not wearing a seatbelt.
"After looking into this matter, we have today (Friday, January 20th) issued a 42-year-old man from London with a conditional offer of fixed penalty,” the force said in a statement.
The PM’s spokesman, meanwhile, said it was a “mistake”.
The former prime minister isn't doing much better either. Boris Johnson has found himself under fire over a report in The Times that he recommended Tory donor and ex-Goldman Sachs banker Richard Sharp for the role of BBC chairman while PM after he helped Mr Johnson with arranging a loan guarantee.
The BBC said it “plays no involvement in the recruitment of the chair”, Sharp said “there is not a conflict” and a spokesperson for Johnson branded the allegations as “rubbish”.
And let us not forget the in-between PM, Liz Truss, either. We learnt that the podium she used to deliver speeches during her short stint in Downing Street cost taxpayers £4,175.
Money well spent...
Adding to reports last year about the MP's behaviour, further reports have emerged that claim Raab has been the subject of formal bullying complaints by at least 24 civil servants.
Nail-guzzling Gullis returned to the news at the end of January for making a pretty grim comment about missing asylum-seeking children.
During PMQs, Labour MP Tulip Siddiq raised a query after it was revealed 200 children have gone missing from Home Office hotels.
She asked Sunak: "Ministers have admitted that they no idea of the whereabouts of these children. Does he still think the UK is a safe haven for vulnerable children?”
Gullis heckled in response: "well they shouldn't have come here illegally."
Later in February he got in trouble for calling his constituents "scrotes" and "scumbags".
\u201cTulip Sadiq asks the prime minister about the welfare of 200 unaccompanied migrant children who\u2019ve gone missing.\n\nTory MP Jonathan Gullis heckles \u2018well they shouldn\u2019t have come here illegally\u2019.\n\nJust when you think you\u2019ve heard it all, the Tory Party find a new low \n\n#PMQs\u201d— Peter Kyle MP (@Peter Kyle MP) 1674650030
Some controversial legislation dropped.
The so-called anti-strike bill will set minimum service levels set for fire, ambulance and rail services for when the sectors go on strike. MPs voted 315 to 246 meaning it will now face scrutiny in the House of Lords.
Not content with all his publicity stunts, Hancock appeared on Good Morning Britain recently to talk about his various scandals once again.
He was criticised for not donating much of his I'm A Celeb fee to charity and quizzed on his motivations for going on the show.
Rees-Mogg faced criticism after suggesting that bullying claims made against deputy prime minister Dominic Raab are “too snowflakey”.
“I think we’ve got to be slightly careful about the bullying allegations,” he told Sky News. “We mustn’t be too snowflakey about it. People need to be able to say this job has not been done well enough and needs to be done better.”
He added: “Is it reasonable to demand from senior and well-paid professionals a level of good service? And then you have to judge whether that line has been overstepped. But I do worry we’re getting a bit snowflakey about this.”
In February there were rumours Truss is planning to return to frontline politics. People were horrified at the prospect given she wasn't a great PM for the five minutes she held the role.
Then she wrote a 4,000 word article in The Telegraph blaming the left for her downfall and moaned about her time in office in an interview.
A minister was corrected in a live interview multiple times after making a point about Brexit and trade.
Sky News's Ed Conway asked Kemi Badenoch, the business and trade secretary how trade with Italy was going since Brexit and ended up in an awkward back and forth in which neither could agree.
\u201cEd Conway - How would you say Italian trade has gone over the last few years... has it gone up or down since brexit? \n\nKemi Badenoch(Business & Trade Secretary) - It has gone up.. \n\nEd Conway - It's gone down by about 12 to 16%\n\n#Clueless\u201d— Haggis_UK \ud83c\uddec\ud83c\udde7 \ud83c\uddea\ud83c\uddfa (@Haggis_UK \ud83c\uddec\ud83c\udde7 \ud83c\uddea\ud83c\uddfa) 1675942018
Late February saw supermarkets struggle with food shortages for various reasons including Brexit, the weather, and rising production costs from the war in Ukraine.
Defra secretary, Therese Coffey baffled the nation when she responded to the issues in parliament, first saying people should just eat turnips to get through the period, and then downplaying things by saying issues will be resolved in weeks.
What was Matt Hancock thinking when he leaked his Covid-era WhatsApps to a journalist? He probably wasn't thinking, or he was thinking that the journalist Isabel Oakeshott was trustworthy given she was helping him write his Pandemic Diaries memoir.
Multiple stories came out of the leaks including Johnson's bad grasp at maths and how the government came to make the major decisions it did during the pandemic.
In March 2023, chancellor Jeremy Hunt unveiled the latest budget and crowed about how good the Tories are at managing the economy.
But inflation is still high, and he made some terrible jokes about a new 'Brexit pubs policy'.
If that wasn't bad enough, check out how cringe their budget announcement graphics were.
The year is 2023 but Partygate is still dominating the news agenda long after it was first reported. In March, Johnson submitted evidence about his Partygate conduct to a committee of MPs investigating him and he moaned about how all the events were necessary for work before losing his temper.
And while Johnson was chatting all things parties (or work events) the prime minister published his tax returns which showed once again just how wealthy he is.
His timing did not go unnoticed by journalists and politicians.
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