Tracey Crouch, the minister for sport, civil society and loneliness, is “on the brink of quitting” over a delay to changes to betting rules, according to the Telegraph.
Crouch, who is also responsible for gambling policy, had announced earlier this year that the maximum stakes on fixed odds betting terminals would be slashed from £100 to £2 as part of measures to tackle problem gambling.
But in the Budget on Monday the chancellor, Philip Hammond, said the move would be delayed until October 2019 to allow betting shops to prepare.
The Telegraph reported that two of Crouch’s friends had said she is “considering her position” and that she is “understood to be furious” about the Treasury's decision.
Crouch became the minister for sport and civil society following the June 2017 general election. She had the loneliness brief added to her portfolio in January. She is the MP for Chatham and Aylesford, and was first elected in 2010.
She recently launched the Civil Society Strategy which set out the government’s vision for working with charities, social enterprises and others on social issues.
Charity leaders have taken to social media to express disappointment at the possibility of Crouch leaving government.
Karl Wilding, director of policy at NCVO, tweeted: “Oh dear. Tracey Crouch is also the (excellent) minister responsible for charities and sport.”
Keiran Goddard, director of policy at the Association for Charitable Foundations added: “That would be a sad loss, but totally understandable given the outrageous u-turn on FOBT.”
That would be a sad loss, but totally understandable given the outrageous u-turn on FOBT— Keiran Goddard (@keirangoddard1) October 31, 2018
No show in Parliament
Crouch did not attend Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport questions in Parliament today. This meant it fell to her boss, culture secretary Jeremy Wright, to defend the government’s position around the timing of FOBT changes, further fuelling speculation that she may resign later today.
Wright said that Crouch had been let down by public transport, in order to excuse her absence. He repeatedly dodged questions from MPs about whether Crouch had threatened to quit, and insisted that she was doing a “great job”.
He also claimed that there had been “no change to government policy” and that it was wrong to describe the change in the expected date as a “delay”.
MPs of all parties suggested Crouch would be right to quit over the delay. Conservative MPs who raised concerns about the FOBT policy in parliament have included Damian Collins, chair of the DCMS committee, and Iain Duncan Smith, the former secretary of state for work and pensions.
Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader and shadow minister, accused Wright of giving in to the gambling industry.