Chris Grayling sinks to new low as £275-an-hour ports ‘expert’ – Tom Richmond

IT’S ironic that a certain Chris Grayling has become an unpaid trustee of the National Portrait Gallery this year when he should, in fact, be hanging his head in shame.

Chris Grayling has taken up a £100,000 a year role with a ports operator - despite being a backbench MP.

The only place suitable for Grayling at the acclaimed venue is the rogues’ gallery after he, once again, managed to bring Parliament – and politics – into 
disrepute with his greed and contempt.

This comes after he updated Parliament’s Register of Members’ Interests to confirm that he’s now an adviser to a leading ports operator who are paying him £100,000 a year – paid quarterly – for seven hours work a week.

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That’s £1,923 a week – more than many people will earn in a month – or the equivalent of £275 an hour over the course of a year. Compare this with the National Living Wage of £8.72 per hour.

One of many cartoons of Chris Grayling by The Yorkshire Post's Graeme Bandeira.

It beggars belief that Hutchison Ports – whose operations include Harwich, Felixstowe, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Barcelona – believe that Grayling’s “expertise” is worth this six-figure sum. They must be all at sea...

But this remuneration was registered on Monday, just days after Grayling tendered his resignation as a member of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee.

This, for the record, is the committee – responsible for the oversight of agencies charged with the country’s national security – that Grayling had been hand-picked by Boris Johnson to chair, despite having no qualifications, before he contrived to lose a vote that had been deliberately rigged in his favour.

No wonder a piqued Grayling doesn’t want to serve under Dr Julian Lewis, the much-respected Parliamentarian who won the vote to chair the committee, when there’s easy money to be made with this ports outfit.

As Transport Secretary form 2016-19, Chris Grayling presided over the deterioration of rail services across the North.

And while this is within the Parliamentary rules, it certainly will not assuage those who still contend – more than a decade after the expenses scandal – that all MPs are on the make at the expense of taxpayers.

They’re not. The overwhelming majority on all sides are extremely diligent and conscientious individuals who work incredibly long hours and are, in most cases, deserving of far more than a MP’s salary of £81,932.

It’s more than a full-time job. It’s a life. Yet, by acting like this, Grayling is offering a second-class service to his Epsom and Ewell constituents when current crises, like Covid, demand round-the-clock attention from all public figures.

None of this will surprise those who became accustomed to Grayling’s arrogance when he destroyed the probation service, wrecked the North’s railways and gave a Brexit contract to a ferry operator with no boats – his only previous maritime experience of note.

Universally known as “Failing Grayling”, he deserves to sink without trace and I’m certain it will only be a matter of time before his new employers realise that their so-called expert doesn’t know his port from his starboard when he next shows his face.

FURTHER to last week’s comments about Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s failure to answer correspondence, Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle is in on the case.

It comes after Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams told MPs that she “had to send two reminders to the Department of Health and Social Care concerning a constituent who had secondary – that is, terminal – breast cancer”.

Jeez. She also cited the Treasury for taking three months to issue a standard reply about a constituent’s business that “had no relevance” to the issues raised.

Suggestions that Ministers are being particularly discourteous towards their opponents have enraged the Speaker. “I do not care what side of the House it is, Ministers have a duty of care to every Member of this House.” Hear, hear.

IF Labour’s Anneliese Dodds is to make her mark as Shadow Chancellor, and it is important that there’s robust over-sight of economic policy, she needs to remember that this is politics – and not academia.

Her first question to Rishi Sunak at Treasury Questions this week was 176 words. Her follow-up was 191 words – enough to prompt an admonishment from Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle – and a chance to scrutinise the Chancellor over, say, the reopening of the economy, and rise in Covid-19 cases, was missed.

At this rate, she will soon rival ITV political editor Robert Peston for verboseness and that will be some feat.

IT has been another bad week for Welcome to Yorkshire after Wakefield Council – previously led by the tourism body’s chair, Peter Box – refused to sanction a £78,000 bailout. Its future is back in doubt.

Yet it appears others are already making alternative arrangements. City of York MP Rachael Maskell made no reference to WtY during an impassioned Commons speech on tourism funding.

Meanwhile York Council and Make It York have launched a new collaboration to support the tourism and hospitality sectors in the Roman city. It includes £100,000 for targeted marketing activity. However, three words were missing from the launch press release – Welcome to Yorkshire. I wonder why?

GOOD news. Gary Lineker has taken a pay cut that has seen his BBC salary drop 23 per cent from around £1.75m to £1.35m.

Bad news. We have to put up with him for another five years after he signed a new contract to present Match of the Day.

Two questions. Why is he still permitted to ‘“freelance” on BT Sport when he should be working full-time for the BBC and why is he exempt from the Corporation’s new social media rules on political impartiality? More own goals...