With the appointment of every Cabinet since 2010, I have had concerns about the policies that appointed ministers are likely to pursue. However, this is the first time I can remember being so deeply worried about the complete lack of honesty and integrity that those now in charge of our country have displayed over many years.
Boris Johnson is clearly in a rush to appoint people to these posts, given that he has so little time left before the Brexit deadline of October 31st. But the office of Prime Minister is not to be taken lightly. These are highly responsible roles, with implications for all our lives, and it is typical of Johnson’s style of leadership that he has appointed such deeply inappropriate individuals in such a slapdash way.
Sajid Javid has taken up the post of Chancellor and now holds the reins of our economy. Javid likes to make much of his family background – the son of immigrants made good, experienced in being a victim of racism, working class Tory. It is therefore inexplicable that as Home Secretary, despite promises to create a more “humane” immigration system, he did nothing to resolve the Windrush scandal and infamously tried to deport a woman in a coma.
Priti Patel is in charge of our domestic security as Home Secretary – an incredibly concerning move, given that her last ministerial post ended abruptly after she was discovered having organised secret meetings with Israel to funnel UK foreign aid money to the Israeli army. Again, despite coming from an immigrant background herself, she has repeatedly blamed “immigrants” for the issues in our NHS despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. This is almost as concerning as her support for the death penalty – again, despite overwhelming evidence against it.
In another deeply worrying move for our national security, Gavin Williamson has been re-appointed to Cabinet in the role of Education Secretary. Like our new Home Secretary, Williams was found guilty and sacked just a few weeks ago for leaking details of a National Security Council meeting to a Chinese company, Huawei, with close links to the Chinese government. What he knows about education is yet to become apparent.
Michael Gove, who presided over the establishment of a joyless curriculum and the universal decline in standards in our education system, has been appointed minister for no deal planning. Presumably his strategy is that if we all just read a lot of Rudyard Kipling poetry, we will be filled with enough imperialistic zeal that we don’t notice the crippling food and medicine shortages.
Amber Rudd has kept her position as Work and Pensions secretary, possibly because nobody else is willing to touch the colossal disaster that is Universal Credit with a bargepole. The MP for Hastings, who narrowly kept her seat in 2017, most recently said that there needed to be “more compassion” in the DWP, which will come as a great relief to my constituent with double incontinence and constant severe pain, who has recently been told she is not eligible for PIP and needs to start spending 37 hours a week looking for jobs.
Astoundingly, Johnson has also appointed his brother Jo Johnson to a ministerial role in Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy. For all the noises the Tories make about social mobility and rewarding talent, we are now drawing our highest offices in the land not only from the same school, but from the same family.
The issues in our transport system nationally – not least the problems on our railways, which I am contacted about on a near-daily basis – are crying out for strong political leadership and a strategic overhaul. Commentators from across the political spectrum have acknowledged that a major issue in how our railways operate is the complexity of the franchising system, and a lack of transparency and public accountability. Newly appointed Transport Minister Grant Shapps (aka “Michael Green”) is very well-placed to navigate his way through this, having previously used several pseudoyms to avoid detection of his multiple jobs.
At a time when the international situation feels increasingly febrile, it is frankly frightening that we have a Foreign Secretary who admitted failing to realise that many goods arrive to our island nation by boat. How can we trust such a man on the international stage on our behalf, trying to defuse deeply complex situations in the Middle East, or negotiating to avert a nuclear war, when the absolute basics have somehow passed him by?
As worrying as these individual appointments are, the big picture is also deeply disturbing. The new appointments represent a lurch to the right and an overwhelming majority of hard Brexiteers, at a time when a responsible Prime Minister would be seeking to bring the country together. There is also an unacceptable level of outdated views and prejudice which cannot become the new norm in our society.
This is not a Cabinet fit to represent our country on the national and international stage. It is a rogues’ gallery of the dishonest, the untrustworthy, the incompetent, and the intolerant, inflicted on us by less than 0.5% of the population. While I may never have agreed with the views of previous Tory Cabinet ministers, this unfitness for office is unprecedented. To put this group of people in charge at such a crucial time in our nation’s history is to gamble with all of our futures.
My constituents deserve better than this. Our country deserves better than this.