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In the spirit of the festive season, This Writer has written a kindly letter to Theresa May, offering a few sage words of advice.

I was going to email it to her, but it seems 10 Downing Street is only allowing emails via a dedicated form, and no message may be longer than 1,000 characters. Clearly this is a prime minister who fears contact with the outside world!

So I’m publishing it here, and will notify her of its presence. Maybe I’ll send it by snail mail after Christmas, just to make sure she (or some office bod) has every opportunity to see it.

Here it is [all boldings mine]:

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing to urge you to consider very carefully the position of your government and yourself as its leader during the Christmas break.

Together with your ministers, you have not cut a fine figure as a national leader in the months since the last general election.

Three of your ministers have been forced to resign in a tiny space of time:

Michael Fallon, who admitted behaviour that had “fallen short” of the appropriate standards.

Priti Patel, who appeared to be following her own foreign policy rather than that of the government, holding secret meetings with foreign politicians and organisations, and lying about having done so.

And now Damian Green has been forced to go, after a Cabinet Office inquiry found he had lied to the country while holding a ministerial position.

You appointed all three to their positions. You should take responsibility for their abuse of the responsibilities with which you entrusted them.

The former ministers named above represent only a fraction of the inappropriate behaviour being carried out by your government, though – as you should be well aware.

Consider Mark Garnier, who called his secretary Caroline Edmondson “sugar tits” and gave her money to buy items from a Soho sex shop.

He has now been cleared of accusations that he breached the expected standards of behaviour, but the investigation – ordered under terms dictated by you, Prime Minister – was limited to questioning whether he broke the Ministerial Code, and you know perfectly well that the matters of which he was accused happened before he was a minister.

So you are saying that you find it perfectly acceptable for a Conservative member of Parliament to act in this manner towards somebody holding a junior position in his office. It is not.

Consider Boris Johnson, the man you appointed as Foreign Secretary, who seems to delight in causing offence to representatives of other nations – states with whom the UK should be trying to encourage friendship and with whom the UK will need to negotiate favourable trade deals when (if) this country leaves the European Union.

This is a man who put a UK citizen in considerable danger by his own incompetence, and who has since failed to achieve any progress in putting matters right. Discussing Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been imprisoned in Iran since early 2016, he said she had been teaching journalism – exactly the crime of which the Iranian authorities had accused her, as they claim it is encouraging rebellion against the regime. He then visited Iran to discuss her case with Iranian politicians – and came home empty-handed. Now, the Iranian judiciary has said she is eligible for early release – a decision that had nothing to do with Mr Johnson’s efforts.

He is worse than useless in this ministerial position; he is a liability. And you appointed him.

And consider David Davis, whose appalling mishandling of Brexit negotiations has resulted in the UK capitulating to the European Union on every single point so far – or delaying agreement (as with the Northern Ireland border issue and the exact amount of the UK’s “divorce” payment).

Mr Davis deliberately misled Parliament by saying that the government had carried out nearly 60 “sectoral impact analyses” which he said were “in excruciating detail”. Members of Parliament were encouraged to believe this meant that he had information detailing the likely effect on the UK economy of our departure from the European Union. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth, as we discovered when he was compelled to provide the documents, and had to admit that they did not exist. The only reason he has escaped proceedings accusing him of Contempt of Parliament is that this was decided by a vote of the Commons committee for Exiting the European Union – a committee whose membership was corruptly stacked in favour of your party by your order, Prime Minister.

Mr Davis himself has said he does not have to be clever or know that much – he just has to be calm – prompting a commentator on a satirical TV show to suggest that he should be replaced with a scented candle.

Again, this is a minister who is a liability, not an asset – and, again, you appointed him, Prime Minister.

The situation in other government departments is no better. The Department for Work and Pensions has lost a case in the High Court over its changes to the criteria for receipt of the Personal Independence Payment. After your government spent considerable effort claiming that it would improve services for people with mental health problems, judges found that your changes to the disability benefit system “blatantly discriminate” against these people, to a level that breaches the Human Rights Act, and based on no more than “subjective opinion”. This is a policy that you support, Prime Minister.

On the subject of mental health, your Health Secretary has dug himself into a deep hole by taking issue with Professor Stephen Hawking and the actor Ralf Little, both of whom have taken issue with him over his cherry-picking of evidence that supports his assertions that the NHS has improved its performance with regard to those with mental health problems; in fact the wider body of evidence suggests otherwise. Mr Hunt has refused to take part in a televised debate on the subject, with fact-checkers on hand to rule on the accuracy of all statements involved, claiming that he had only said he would do so if Mr Little continued to insist that the Health Secretary “knowingly lied”. These are weasel words. The substantive issue is whether Mr Hunt has made the health service unfit to deliver the care its users need, and Mr Hunt is dodging that issue by running away from discussion of it. While you did not install this failing minister in his role, you have certainly kept him in it, Prime Minister.

The health service continues to fall into difficulty under your government’s spectacular de-funding policy, and we are already seeing headlines about this year’s Winter crisis.

The list goes on and on. There are currently concerns that your ministers plan to use Brexit to scrap workers’ rights – and you have failed to provide adequate reassurance that this is not true. Your claim that you plan to improve the rights of UK citizens has no substance to it as you have not provided any information on what measures you intend to impose.

Homelessness has risen hugely under the Conservative governments of the last seven years, and rough sleepers are dying in the cold again. As far as the public can tell, your government’s policy to eliminate homelessness is to allow these people to die in the cold, and not lift a finger to prevent it.

Meanwhile, it seems super-rich donors to the Conservative Party have exclusive access to you and your ministers at so-called Leaders Group meals which, according to public opinion, you allow them to use to influence your policies. That would not only be weak; it would be corrupt.

All in all, the policies of your government since the general election have been incapable of addressing the problems faced by the United Kingdom at this time. You have proved that neither you nor any of your MPs are up to the challenge of providing good government at this time.

If you disagree – and I’m sure you do – then your best option is to go back to the country and seek a stronger mandate.

So: Merry Christmas, Prime Minister. The best present you could provide to the country is the promise of a general election early in the New Year.

With regards,

Mike Sivier


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