Tom Harwood: The more Downing Street cries wolf, the less power it has

The Coronavirus Act was a piece of legislation incredibly broad in scope and rushed through Parliament in a panic

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Yesterday we learned that the upcoming renewal of the Coronavirus Act will strip out key pandemic powers that the act gives to Ministers. While the Government says it will renew the Act in order to maintain legislation backing isolation sick pay and the evictions ban, other elements will be removed.

The Coronavirus Act was a piece of legislation incredibly broad in scope and rushed through Parliament in a panic at the start of the crisis. It handed almost unprecedented power to ministers, but also importantly to devolved administrations.

The Institute for Government explains that the Act “empowers devolved ministers to…temporarily close educational establishments.”

Meaning that if powers to close schools really are being taken out of the act, that power will be stripped of the First Ministers of devolved administrations too. No doubt Nicola Sturgeon will be thrilled.

While that news may be music to the ears of Tory MPs, what won't be is the enormous NHS tax rise to be legislated for this week, along with persistent reshuffle rumours.

The Prime Minister's Director of Communications and Chief Whip and seen heading into Downing Street yesterday afternoon, unusual for a Sunday. This has reignited reshuffle rumours. Strangely these seem to flare up whenever a big vote is on the horizon, allegedly helping to keep unruly MPs in check with the prospect of jobs or sackings.

We'll be keeping a key eye on these rumours, although I have to say the more that Downing Street cries wolf, or at least hints wolf, on this issue, the less power it has.

And all that's what to expect today at the start of another bumper week in British Politics.