05 Jul Number 10 hopeless and shambolic, says Commons justice committee chair
THE Prime Minister is in a hopeless position after Number 10 changed its story about whether Boris Johnson was aware of allegations surrounding Chris Pincher, a senior MP has said.
Sir Bob Neill, chair of the Commons Justice Select Committee, told GB News that it was difficult to see how the Government could regain public trust.
He was responding to the revelation that a senior civil servant had personally warned the PM about Chris Pincher in 2019.
Asked by Tom Harwood where this leaves Number 10, Tory Sir Bob said: “I think it leaves it in a pretty hopeless position, frankly, because this is yet again shifting sands and it’s one of the things that really has been concerning many of us for some time now. There seems a complete inability to deal with really basic questions and then stick to the same line.
“Every time we seem to get a little bit of information put out and then it has to be corrected or changed or something else comes along.
“I think people are finding it very frustrating that why for heaven’s sake can’t Number 10 just be straight about it.”
Asked if the problem was just the PM being clumsy, Sir Bob said: “This is a consistent pattern of poor conduct.
“I’m afraid when you look at Number 10 as an organisation, the lead for that pattern comes from the top and I think, if you like, the joke on that side has gone from people.
“And then you add that to the fact that, although there was an ambitious agenda, or a lot of boosterish talk…precious little of it has actually happened on the ground, with certain exceptions.”
“Policy is largely stalled, there’s a real sense of drift…in this politics like many other things, you’re as good as your last gig.
“What worked in 2019 – we’ve certainly moved on since then.”
Sir Bob was asked how the Government can recover: “I think it’s going to be extremely hard…I’ve been pretty clear that I’m not satisfied with the leadership of the party anyway.
“…it goes to trust, the shambolic way in which it’s been handled also goes to competence.
“The other concern many of us have about the Government at the moment is that there isn’t a sense of drive, there isn’t a sense of focus. There’s a real sense of drift.
“You see that in policy areas that people say to me, ‘well, actually the level of taxation that we’ve got at the moment is the highest in 40-odd years and the level of public debt, you know, I wouldn’t mind, it’s not even being very Conservative either.
“And I think you put those things together, for many Conservatives, you’ve got a perfect storm.”
Asked what policies and big announcements the Government could make in an effort to turn the tide, he said: “Cutting tax will be an obvious thing to do, reversing the National Insurance increase, for example.
“If you’ve got a real squeeze, as I’m seeing in my constituency now, with people in that sort of the middle income range by and large, the obvious thing to do is to start cutting taxation, particularly to help those who are on low wages.
“I think we ought to be looking to be ambitious and reduce taxation beyond that, and looking at a deregulatory agenda. So there are things you could do in policy terms, but unfortunately, thus far, they seem to be ruled out by Number 10 and the Treasury.
“The other issue, when it comes down to the Prime Minister’s position is it’s easy to change policies, also it is [about] character and I think that is the harder task that many of us at the moment find very difficult to see how that can be achieved.”