Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. UK Politics
21 August 2019updated 02 Sep 2021 5:32pm

As Tracey Crouch quits, it’s becoming easier to see Theresa May caving on the fixed-odds betting u-turn

The minister said she couldn’t back the government’s delay in taking action on gambling, thus prolonging the misery it causes.

By Stephen Bush

Tracey Crouch has resigned as minister for sports and civil society after the government U-turned on its pledge to reduce the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2 by April 2019, delaying action until the autumn of 2019.

For the government, the delay allows the Treasury to bank an extra £1.5bn in revenue. Why did Crouch think it was worth sacrificing a ministerial job she excelled at? It comes back to  one of the reasons why she is widely respected across Westminster and by almost everyone who has dealt with her as a minister as someone who has mastered her brief: she felt very keenly that having seen the number of people per day whose lives are ruined by FOBTs, she couldn’t sign off an arrangement that would prolong that misery.

It’s harder to see what Downing Street is up to. Crouch’s resignation adds another name to the list of Conservative MPs who want action taken on FOBTs sooner rather than later and most of them are MPs with no hope or ambition of a future in a Tory government. Theresa May could very easily end up down one able minister and having had to cave on FOBTs in any case.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.