UK Politics

The downfall of Damian Green

BY Iain Martin | tweet iainmartin1   /  20 December 2017

Really, that’s enough politics for this year. Time to stop. So much has happened in the last twelve months that when it was announced on Wednesday evening that Damian Green, the most senior cabinet minister after Theresa May, had been resigned (fired) Westminster went through the motions on social media and television of trying to treat it like a massive story. But there was no gusto. The weariness and tiredness was apparent. The Green scandal is a sad, squalid, troubling story – a miserable coda to a difficult year.

Everyone (not least the voters and readers) is in desperate need of a festive holiday. Which means I won’t present a long and detailed analysis.¬†Others, no doubt, will have lots to say about the various aspects of personal morality and behaviour. I will simply make a couple of quick observations about the possible implications.

1) It weakens May further, obviously. There aren’t many people she can really talk to about politics, I mean really talk. He was one of them. When May was rescued after her general election disaster, Damian Green did more than any other colleague to organise her survival. A new Number 10 operation was built, and for a time Green effectively ran the country, or directed operations to keep a traumatised Prime Minister going. The tenor of the resignation letters suggests Green thinks he has been treated very badly by his old friend. It’ll all make for fascinating reading in the memoirs. How soon will he make a resignation speech?

2) Several former police officers behaved appallingly and a chilling precedent has been set. Evidence was retained, against the rules, and then deployed to bring down a cabinet minister. What on earth is going on with the police in this country? A lot of citizens who are not MPs or journalists have been asking that question for a long time.

3) If there is a successor to Green as de facto deputy Prime Minister, it probably comes down to either born-again Brexiteer Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, or Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary who is central to Tory attempts – via environment policy – to change perceptions about what the party is about.

4) An entire generation of senior Tories who came to prominence in the early 2000s is being taken out or running soon into the final straight. The idea in that context of May going on for a decade – touted the other day by some newly loyal MPs, only days after May teetered on the edge – is silly. The whole enterprise, the Tory party, is after seven years in power and Brexit just exhausted, knackered, done and in need of refreshing by its younger talent. It has become glib to say that there must be a bold reshuffle. That should have happened ages ago. Indeed, the Tory party should have gone for a new leader after the election shambles. It didn’t.

5) Green was an advocate in cabinet for a sensible Brexit, that is one involving some compromises but that seems to be where the Prime Minister, David Davis, the bulk of the cabinet, leading officials and non-headbanger Tory MPs want to get to anyway. I could be wrong, but I don’t see how Green’s departure alters the dynamics much.

5) That’s it. I am taking the Reaction board for Christmas lunch on Thursday. Service on the site will be light to non-existent.


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