Home Secretary Theresa May digs in her heels over George Osborne's swingeing police cuts ahead of Spending Review 

  • Theresa May and George Osborne are locked in a bitter dispute over cuts
  • Mr Osborne demands cuts after forces insist they're pushed to the limit
  • 43 police forces in England and Wales made a last-ditch plea last week 
  • Warned the proposed cuts would lead to the loss of another 40,000 posts 

Theresa May and George Osborne were yesterday locked in a bitter dispute over planned police cuts as rows with Cabinet Ministers over the Chancellor’s Spending Review continued until the last minute.

The Home Secretary was battling against Mr Osborne’s demands for deep cuts after chief constables produced evidence that their budgets were already stretched to breaking point.

All Government departments – apart from the protected budgets of health, international development and defence – had been ordered by the Treasury to agree to spending cuts by yesterday, four days before Mr Osborne makes his Commons statement on the review.

Theresa May and George Osborne are locked in a bitter dispute over planned police cuts
Theresa May and George Osborne are locked in a bitter dispute over planned police cuts

Row: Theresa May (left) and George Osborne (right) are locked in a bitter dispute over planned police cuts

But by mid-afternoon, Mrs May was still digging her heels in against the demand for double-digit savings from Mr Osborne.

The stand-off came after the 43 police forces in England and Wales made a last-ditch plea to Mrs May last week.

In submissions seen by this newspaper, they argued that they had already lost £2.3 billion in central grants over the past five years, forcing them to lose 16,916 officers and 20,441 further staff.

They warned that the proposed cuts would lead to the loss of another 40,000 posts by 2020, taking police strength below 100,000 for the first time since the early 1970s, and at a time of a heightened terrorist threat.

The stand-off came after the 43 police forces in England and Wales made a last-ditch plea to Mrs May (pictured with George Osborne) last week

The stand-off came after the 43 police forces in England and Wales made a last-ditch plea to Mrs May (pictured with George Osborne) last week

The pressure on Mr Osborne increased further last week when London Mayor Boris Johnson made a direct appeal to David Cameron, saying the cuts could expose Londoners to the danger of a Paris-style massacre.

Mrs May is not the only Cabinet Minister who tried to fend off Mr Osborne’s demands until the last minute: Culture Secretary John Whittingdale is also understood to have been arguing with the Treasury yesterday, complaining that the proposed reductions would leave his department ‘borderline non-viable’.

A Treasury source said the negotiations with departments were progressing ‘smoothly’.

 

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