TODAY’S damning revelations about the conduct of Chris Grayling are not the first occasion that he has chosen to cynically mislead voters here – this has been a recurring theme since the 2017 election when it emerged that the Transport Secretary’s campaign promises to The Yorkshire Post about his commitment to rail electrification were, in fact, a fabrication.
Yet Department for Transport correspondence, in which Mr Grayling specifically asks officials to cover up an awkward announcement about delays to a major rail upgrade scheme in the North until after the completion of an equally embarrassing House of Commons debate about failures in franchising policy, also appears to show a prima facie contempt for Parliament while nullifying the ability of MPs to hold Ministers to account.
Few here will be surprised by Mr Grayling’s latest attempt to avoid responsibility for the railways – and, specifically, last year’s unprecedented timetable chaos and continuing delays to the line between Preston and Manchester that continues to have far-reaching repercussions for the rest of the North and also the long-awaited introduction of more modern rolling stock.
He has, on numerous occasions, failed to attend debates called by Yorkshire MPs to discuss Northern Powerhouse transport policy. He has repeatedly been forced to attend Parliament to answer emergency questions from the Opposition about his many policy failings. And regular surveys of Tory activists by the ConservativeHome website continue to name Mr Grayling as the least rated Minister of all in a Government largely bereft of political talent.
Yet, as the Transport Secretary faces fresh questions about his approach, the bigger question is one for Theresa May – why is Mr Grayling is still in post and what will it take for him to be sacked?