Tag Archives: cabinet

Bethell sacked – for destroying evidence in ‘government by personal email’ scandal?

Lord Bethell: he previously claimed he never used his private accounts for official business. Now he has been sacked by the Tory Government – as This Site suggested. Is he about to face court action too?

Before we start, it should be made clear that Boris Johnson has given no reason for sacking Lord Bethell as a health minister in his Cabinet reshuffle.

That being said, Bethell is a key figure in a major – ongoing – scandal in which government decisions may have been made using personal email and/or WhatsApp accounts in order to avoid public scrutiny.

Bethell had claimed that he never used his private email or telephone accounts for official business – but then replaced his mobile phone before it could be searched for information relevant to £85m of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) deals that are subject to a legal challenge.

The government is expected to disclose Bethell’s correspondence on those matters – by email, WhatsApp and SMS – as part of legal proceedings issued by the Good Law Project.

The Health Secretary has a responsibility to preserve and search documents for information relevant to the case from the point at which judicial review proceedings were issued in late 2020, under the government’s “duty of candour” – and the phone was replaced in early 2021.

The government has admitted it made no effort to issue Bethell with a preservation notice requiring him to save documents, claiming that ministers’ official correspondence was routinely saved as a matter of course. However, this did not cover government business conducted by private means.

It seems Bethell has not reactivated his WhatsApp, SMS and private email accounts from that phone, although there is nothing to stop him from doing so. Efforts are being made to recover information in those accounts from his mobile phone provider.

I wonder if those efforts have borne fruit and Bethell’s departure from government is happening ahead of more serious proceedings in the courts.

Whatever happens there, this development indicates that Boris Johnson’s government is not as immune to public scrutiny as he has previously tried to suggest.

The prime minister has often shrugged off criticism after serious complaints were made about his own misbehaviour and that of his ministers, but at least three of the worst offenders – Gavin Williamson, Robert Jenrick and now Bethell – have been ejected in the reshuffle.

Is Johnson going for plausible deniability – putting distance between himself and Bethell so he won’t be caught in the backlash if serious wrongdoing is exposed?

A quick note about Liz Truss

Liz Truss: the queen of cheese may prove even more clueless than Raab.

You may have heard a lot of commentary from broadcasters you trust, claiming that Liz Truss’s promotion from Trade to the Foreign Office shows she is a capable politician, a rising star and a possible Tory leadership contender.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The reason she was promoted has nothing to do with her abilities. It happened because the tiny readership of Tory blog ConservativeHome have voted her as their favourite Tory Cabinet member in a regular poll.

I mean to say: do you really think she got it for doing a trade deal in which she’ll send cheese to lactose-intolerant Japan?

Or, for that matter, for this:

Still, the comedy value should be terrific because we’ll get to watch the mouse-brained Queen of Cheese kick up a stink across the world. Just try not to take it personally when people from foreign countries point at you and laugh.

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Raab’s move from Foreign Office to Justice is a DEMOTION

And quite right too – although he should have been kicked onto the backbenches to go back to his lazy old ways.

Remember: Dominic Raab came to public attention as a co-author of the book Britannia Unchained, which alleged that British workers were among the laziest in the world. It was then revealed that he was one of the laziest MPs in the House of Commons.

And let’s face it he’s been absolutely rubbish as Foreign Secretary:

We knew he was on his way out after the debacle that was the UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. He actually admitted that the intelligence agencies of both the UK and USA were outsmarted by a gang of desert-dwelling Taliban terrorists (but were they? Or was he just too stupid to pay attention to what they were saying, and did he think the Taliban would abide by what he decided to do? That was Joe Biden’s mistake).

He had only just got back from holiday, although he claimed he had been working – there – from the moment he had been told of the emergency. He denied claims that he had been seen sunning himself on the beach by claiming that “The sea was closed.”

His pathetic performance was highlighted by the resurfacing of an image of him posing with a woman wearing a sign saying, “He has no idea what he is doing” (above).

Trouble is, his role as prime minister Boris Johnson’s official stand-in has been confirmed with Raab named Deputy Prime Minister in this week’s Cabinet reshuffle. But his record in this respect is no cause for pride:

Covid-19 safety rules told us not to touch objects when we don’t know where they’ve been, and then lick our fingers. Raab did it while standing in for Johnson at a Covid-19 press conference.

He still has this job. In fact, it has been given a title for the first time.

Perhaps that’s the reason he has said he is delighted with the change.

Because going from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Ministry of Justice is, in no uncertain terms, a demotion. Raab is out of favour, and rightly so. He is a disgrace to UK politics.

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Bent Bob Jenrick won’t be making any more dodgy decisions on housing developments

Jenrick and Johnson: both had personal connections with property developer Richard Desmond. It has been suggested that Jenrick only stayed in his post after the Westferry scandal broke because Johnson also had a hand in the decision.

Robert Jenrick, the Tory Housing Secretary best-known for fiddling an inner-London development in order to deprive the local council of a huge fee, has been kicked out of Boris Johnson’s Cabinet – and not a moment too soon.

Not only did he override both the local planning authority and the Independent Planning Inspectorate to grant planning permission for Richard Desmond’s controversial Westferry development, despite it having been found not to meet acceptable planning standards…

… but he did it to allow the developer to avoid paying a £45 million levy to Tower Hamlets Council that he had decided should not apply – and then used that as his reason for granting the application.

Text messages between Desmond and Jenrick show the former Express newspaper owner and pornographer pressured the minister to grant planning permission, saying: “We don’t want to give Marxists loads of doe [sic] for nothing!”

He broke Covid-19 lockdown rules to travel between his three homes – and then insisted that young people should adhere to restricts, even though there was no evidence to suggest they did not.

He corruptly induced a fellow MP to approve a grant for his constituency totalling £237 per person recently – but negotiated Covid-19 support for the people of Manchester down to £7.95 per person.

So it is undoubtedly good that Boris Johnson has finally had the guts to kick Jenrick out of the Cabinet.

The only question is, why did it take so long?

Was it because Johnson himself was also involved in helping Desmond? I guess we may never know.

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Buckland judged unworthy – but plan to put government above the law lives on

Robert Buckland: he had one job – to put Boris Johnson above the law.

Robert Buckland has become the second Cabinet member to be sacked in Boris Johnson’s reshuffle.

If you can’t place the name, he used to be Justice Secretary and has been behind the plan to ensure the courts will not be able to stop Johnson’s Tory Government from breaking the law in the future.

The idea is to restrict the courts’ powers of judicial review to prevent them from examining government legislation and deciding whether it conforms with the law – or breaks it.

It would give Johnson the ability to do anything he wants – by making sure the rest of us have no legal power to stop him.

Johnson was deeply embarrassed by judicial reviews that overturned his decisions to mismanage Brexit and to prorogue Parliament, back in 2019, and it seems this is the entirely selfish motivation behind the proposed law.

MPs from every party apart from the Conservatives have pointed out that the plan is based on a lie by Johnson and his government that a panel led by Lord Faulks QC had found that courts in judicial review cases had become more prone “to edge away from a strictly supervisory jurisdiction”.

Faulks himself has contradicted this Tory lie. He said his panel did not identify any such “trend” and “was not ultimately convinced that judicial review needed radical reform”.

The plan to put the government above the law has been condemned by the  Bar Council, Law Society, Constitutional and Administrative Law Association, Liberty, Justice and the Public Law Project for the same reason.

The Ministry of Justice – and therefore Buckland, as the Secretary of State, responded: “We made a manifesto commitment to ensure the judicial review process is not open to abuse or delay, or used to conduct politics by another means.” Fine words that are not borne out by the substance of the plan.

So we are losing a Justice Secretary who wanted to put injustice at the heart of Tory government decision-making. But is Johnson only replacing one such character with somebody worse?

ADDITIONAL: As I was typing this story, it was announced that Dominic Raab has been demoted from Foreign Secretary to Justice Secretary. It seems likely to This Writer that this is in order to push through the plan to put Johnson above the law more quickly.

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Good riddance, Gavin! Williamson sacked as Education Secretary

Ooh, don’t have a Betty: Gavin Williamson was dubbed the Frank Spencer of Boris Johnson’s Cabinet due to his ineptitude and lack of intelligence. Worse still, he didn’t have the heart that Michael Crawford gave his comedy character. In fact, let’s face it – Williamson has no redeeming features at all.

England’s education system is (momentarily) stronger with the announcement that Gavin Williamson has been sacked from his post as the minister in charge, as part of a Cabinet reshuffle by Boris Johnson.

His two-year tenure stands as testament to the fact that having no Education Secretary is better than having him in the role.

Incompetent Williamson’s failures are fast becoming the stuff of legend, with the headline disasters well-known to all of us:

In 2020, when A-level students could not take their exams because of Covid-19, he used a algorithm to allocate marks – that was rigged to make it seem that privately-educated pupils were more intelligent than the riff-raff from the state system that he ran.

He later tried to force disadvantaged, black and minority ethnic children in England to take exams when other kids didn’t have to, claiming that they respond better to examination conditions. It seemed clear racism – an attempt to put these children down with duff results.

He made it clear that the government expected all schools to open as normal in January this year – then closed them after just one day because prime minister Boris Johnson ordered a new lockdown and he was unaware of it.

He decided to foist Latin as a subject onto state school pupils, rather than anything useful. At the time I wrote: “Having killed the economy with Brexit and enormous numbers of the population with Covid-19, the Tories now want us all to learn a dead language.”

He scrapped dozens of legal rights for children.

He also wanted a clampdown on indiscipline in schools after the return from Covid-19 lockdown – but provided no evidence whatsoever to support his wild claim that our children had gone feral.

Before Boris Johnson gave him the bullet, it was suggested that Williamson would blame school pupils and parents if Covid-19 infections spike after the start of the school term.

It’s still too early to tell whether that has happened but we will be able to judge his successor by whether they choose to follow the same cowardly strategy.

If Johnson continues to follow his “Cabinet of all the idiots” strategy (he thinks it makes him look like the intelligent one) then our children’s education may be in for an even worse battering.

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Zahawi replacing Williamson in suggested Cabinet change would be going from bad to worse

Nadhim Zahawi: waving the flag and messing up the message.

If Boris Johnson really is planning to reshuffle his cabinet, I see the plan is still to surround himself with people who are even more incompetent and corrupt than he is.

Nadhim Zahawi is tipped to replace Gavin Williamson as Education Secretary after Williamson’s latest gaffe – pretending to forget his own A-level results in an LBC interview:

Williamson previously tried to have thousands of students’ A-level results marked down, using an algorithm that artificially boosted privately-educated pupils over those who went to state school.

He demanded a ramping-up of discipline in schools, claiming without any evidence that the Covid-19 pandemic had “inevitably” turned our children feral and blaming technology – mobile phones – as a disruptive influence while at the same time praising it for keeping them learning.

When Boris Johnson announced a lockdown in January, Williamson presided over chaos in the education system as primary pupils were sent back to school for just one day before Johnson pulled out the rug from under the system and Williamson had not provided any advance warning – at all – about what was going to happen.

He had previously taken local education authorities to court for keeping schools closed when he wanted them to open, creating confusion and anxiety due to constant mixed-messaging.

He illegally stripped children in care of 65 legal protections after conducting a consultation that was selective about whose opinions it sought. The change proved to be temporary.

He was exposed as a racist when he said children from ethnic minorities need to sit exams. After it was pointed out that those in Wales and Scotland who weren’t going to do so (because of the Covid crisis) may have better results, he scrapped the plan for exams in England.

And don’t even get me started on his plan to offer Latin as a language subject in schools – a dead language for a country that is dying due to Brexit, Covid-19 and the corruption of government ministers like him.

Given all of the above, one might think it is a good thing that Williamson may be going.

But there is just one problem:

Nadhim Zahawi is at least as bad as Williamson – if not worse.

Zahawi wants everyone to think that he has made a great success of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout – he is the Vaccines Minister, after all – but there’s just one problem: it has been run entirely by the NHS.

He’s just the figurehead. His other duties include trying to avoid explaining his prime minister’s financial irregularities, like the Downing Street flat refurbishment:

How about when he had to explain why Johnson had said vaccinations had broken the link between Covid infection and hospitalisation?

Before the vaccines job he was a business minister – and duly messed up explaining why the government wasn’t providing enough help for the self-employed during the Covid crisis:

He has a second job working for an oil company – a conflict of interest at a time when pressure will be put on such firms to green up their act.

Historically, he became notorious during the expenses scandal, after it was revealed that he had claimed public money to heat his stables.

He used a mortgage lender based in a tax haven.

He attended the Presidents Club dinner event- on multiple occasions – where women were subjected to sexual harassment, and did not report the offences.

He objected to Donald Trump’s travel ban against Muslims – but only when his own family were affected.

He is incompetent and he is corrupt.

And it seems Boris Johnson thinks he is perfect material to take over from another corrupt incompetent in a Cabinet role.

It is an apt coincidence that this is being reported on the day the former Welsh Education minister, Kirsty Williams, is in the headlines for speaking out about online abuse she received.

She could have done the Westminster job better than either of these two clowns.

Source: Nadhim Zahawi tipped for Cabinet role as pressure builds on Gavin Williamson

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Keir Starmer was part of an attempted coup against Jeremy Corbyn. Now he’s whining about Shadow Cabinet backstabbers

Keir Starmer was happy to resign as a shadow cabinet minister in order to push Jeremy Corbyn out of the Labour leadership in 2016 – but now he thinks his critics in the current shadow cabinet should go instead of him.

Keir Starmer. What a piece of… work.

Five years ago he was among a group of right-wingers in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet who took part in a co-ordinated series of resignations intended to cause a leadership election in what became known as the “chicken coup”.

As the name suggests, this behaviour was considered to be cowardly and underhanded.

Now, Starmer has thrown his toys out of his pram after hearing that some of his own, predominantly right-wing, shadow cabinet have been briefing against his aides and some of their colleagues:

Unnamed shadow ministers have in recent weeks criticised Starmer’s aides, including his chief of staff Morgan McSweeney, policy chief Claire Ainsley and political director Jenny Chapman, blaming them for Labour’s caution or its reliance on focus groups of former “Red Wall” voters.

Starmer is also understood to be furious at recent briefings against frontbenchers Anneliese Dodds and Rachel Reeves.

I can’t discuss the briefings against Starmer’s aides because I don’t know enough about it, but it was claimed that Dodds would be sacked for failing to communicate Labour’s vision – which is Starmer’s job.

And Reeves was criticised for appearing in media interviews instead of Starmer, after he made a video praising a church that preaches homophobia.

According to the Huffington Post,

The Labour leader told the weekly meeting of Labour’s shadow cabinet that he was appalled by recent criticism of his aides, saying those responsible should “either stop now or have the guts to get out” of his frontbench team.

Why would these critics want to resign?

Their entire point is that it is the aides and Starmer who have behaved inappropriately – Starmer in the cases of Dodds and Reeves because he had (allegedly) put them in the line of fire that he should have taken.

And by actually putting forward an argument, it seems to This Writer that they have behaved much more honourably than Starmer did in 2016, when he resigned because he didn’t like the leader the Labour Party had democratically elected (and who was elected again as a result of the coup, with a bigger majority than before – despite (again, alleged) attempts to rig the vote).

I notice that Starmer himself seems far less inclined, himself, to resign, even though that action seems far more appropriate now than it was in 2016.

Perhaps next month’s local elections will change his mind.

Source: Keir Starmer Blasts Shadow Cabinet ‘Cowards’ Who Brief Against His Staff | HuffPost UK

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Liz Truss is Tories’ choice as most popular Cabinet member. Really? From doing deals with Macedonia?

Truss up: the queen of cheese is now queen of the Cabinet. Why? Seriously. WHY?

The mouse-brained queen of cheese, Liz Truss, has been voted most popular Cabinet member by Conservative-voting readers of the ConservativeHome website.

I mean, obviously there’s very little competition, but, really? Liz Truss?

This is the woman who got so aggravated about cheese, she’ll never live it down:

She went on to forge a trade deal with Japan that, even in September when it was signed, was ridiculed for selling Stilton to a nation of people who are lactose intolerant.

Then in November, the deal unravelled altogether. Truss had claimed “strong tariff reductions on key agricultural products like pork, beef and salmon [that] will benefit farmers and food exporters”.

But a study by the UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO) at the University of Sussex found that just 10 of 9,444 products will enjoy lower taxes.

They include birds’ eggs, raw hides, fur skins, handbags and ultra-strong spirits of at least 90 per cent alcohol – none of which are exported to Japan by the UK, meaning the study found the gain to UK exporters is zero.

Now she’s celebrating a deal with North Macedonia. Is it too early for the wheels to come off that wagon?

Apparently it isn’t.

In fact, I hope people in Macedonia don’t take offence at the next comment:

She is utterly incapable and a danger to the well-being of the people of the UK.

What does it say about her Cabinet colleagues that Tories find her the most appealing member of that group?

Over to you, Twitter…

Here’s the last word:

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Leaked report warns of Covid-Brexit “horror show” – remember THIS IS WHAT BORIS JOHNSON WANTS

Two-fingered salute: the UK might fall into lawlessness and chaos because of Boris Johnson but he doesn’t care, as long as he gets what he wants.

A Cabinet Office “reasonable worst-case” report on the effects of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit combining with another wave of Covid-19 has laid out exactly what Boris Johnson wanted for the UK when he became PM.

Johnson, you’ll remember, did not want any trade deals with the European Union after the UK leaves that bloc.

It was widely believed that this is because the hedge fund managers who supported his bid to be Tory leader have bet heavily on the UK going into recession, with many big-name firms going out of business. The claim was that they could make £8 billion out of it.

Of course, none of these multi-billionaires care a fig about the rest of us. If the country falls into chaos they’ll be off to their holiday homes in the sun, with their cash safely stowed in a tax haven.

Meanwhile, back in Blighty, you will be left to deal with food, fuel and power shortages, illness and deaths caused by flood, flu and Covid-19, and incursions into the country from outside such as EU boats coming into our fishing waters.

And, as may reasonably be expected from his government’s failures so far on Covid-19 – the school reopening furore, school meals, exam results, care home deaths, PPE procurement, face mask procurement, test and trace, contract nepotism… the list goes on and on – on flooding (remember that?) and on any other subject you care to mention, the Johnson government has not planned any response to this at all.

The article goes on to state:

  • One in 20 Town Halls could go bust in a second Covid wave, sparking social care chaos.
  • The economic impact of the virus and Brexit could cause public disorder, shortages and price hikes.
  • Troops may have to be drafted on to the streets to help the police in the worst-case scenario — 1,500 are already on stand by.
  • Social distancing measures and masks will have to continue until 2021 regardless.
  • Supplies of food and fuel are all under threat this Christmas if Dover becomes blocked.

The planners warned that “pandemic influenza, severe flooding, a Covid second wave and an unruly exit from the EU transition period could cause a systemic economic crisis with major impact on ­disposable incomes, unemployment, business activity, international trade and market stability.”

It could be combined with likely “coordinated industrial action” as well as shortages risking public disorder and a mental health crisis that will hit the poorest hardest.

Nobody in a Tory government is going to worry about a mental health crisis that harms poor people, of course.

And the attitude by leading Tories to this frankly terrifying report seems to be that if they ignore it, it will go away.

Michael Gove is quoted as babbling: “We got Brexit done with a great deal in January.

“A brighter future awaits as we forge our own path.”

A government spokesperson did add that this was a “reasonable worst case” scenario.

But on the Johnson ministry’s record so far, it is stretching the facts to breaking point to suggest that the government is “ensuring we are ready for all eventualities”.

That simply is not going to happen. On the evidence of the last 12 months, it would be irresponsible to believe anything Johnson, his ministers or his spokespeople say about it.

But there’s one more matter to remember:

If this disaster happens, then there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, other than to prepare as well as you can (because the Tories simply won’t).

I anticipate another stockpiling splurge, worse than the rush for toilet roll in March, at the very least.

Obviously the worst-case will be social unrest and violence – and I’m not ruling that out, either.

Whatever happens, if we end up with no deal and any of the feared outcomes are triggered, you must remember (because he’ll lie about it):

It is what Boris Johnson wanted all along.

Source: Leaked document reveals Cabinet’s emergency plans for perfect storm of No Deal Brexit and coronavirus second wave

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