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.


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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.

Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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