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Downing Street has declined to comment on the report [Image: Getty].

Downing Street has declined to comment on the report [Image: Getty].


Satire is dead:

Theresa May has ordered a crackdown on unauthorised leaks by ministers and civil servants with a warning that culprits will face instant dismissal if they are caught – a leaked memorandum has revealed.

Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood wrote to senior officials informing them the Prime Minister had demanded urgent action to tighten security in Whitehall.

Embarrassingly for No 10 however, his memorandum was leaked to The Mail on Sunday just days after being issued.

Source: Theresa May orders crackdown on unauthorised leaks by ministers and civil servants, leaked memorandum reveals

The article goes on to report that “in his note – dated 28 November and marked Official-Sensitive – Sir Jeremy referred to a “spate of leaks and unauthorised briefings” which had appeared in the media on Brexit, the US elections and the Autumn Statement.

“Leaking is corrosive and undermines trust and good government. Leaks are never acceptable but the regularity and cumulative impact of recent incidents mean we must now collectively take exceptional action,” he wrote.

Those of us who remember the classic comedy Yes, Prime Minister should be laughing at this, as it echoes so clearly the discussion (I believe in the episode Man Overboard) about “good” leaks and “bad” leaks.

A “good” leak is, of course, one that presents the government of the day in a favourable way; a “bad” leak is the opposite.

So at one point the Prime Minister, Jim Hacker, states: “I occasionally have confidential press briefings, but I have never leaked.”

To this, his faithful civil servant Bernard Woolley replies: “Oh, that’s another of those irregular verbs, isn’t it? I give confidential press briefings; you leak; he’s been charged under Section 2a of the Official Secrets Act.”

Indeed, national security is mentioned in the (leaked) memo – but the threat to anybody found releasing confidential information is not confined to that.

Sir Jeremy’s memo states: “Anyone found to have leaked sensitive information will be dismissed even where there is no compromise of national security.”

So there it is. This leaked memo reacting to the leaking of memos shows British politics is now a parody of Yes, Prime Minister – therefore it is a parody of a parody.

Who will have the last laugh?

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