IT would be remiss not to challenge Chris Grayling’s sanctimony after the Transport Secretary, in response to Labour attacks, made a virtue of his presence in Parliament to brief MPs on the franchise process for HS2.
Talk about double standards. After all, this is the very same Minister who has snubbed the Commons on several occasions when Yorkshire MPs like Diana Johnson, Dan Jarvis and others have tried to hold him to account over the Northern Powerhouse – they have, in fairness, been far more effective than Labour’s front bench team.
The growing suspicion that Mr Grayling only makes a Ministerial statement when he has a positive announcement to make was self-evident when Wakefield MP Mary Creagh, and her Leeds counterpart Rachel Reeves, sought assurances that Parliament’s Easter recess will not be exploited by the Department for Transport to slip out an announcement on the future operation of the East Coast Main Line after Stagecoach and Virgin controversially foreclosed the existing franchise.
At a time when there’s so much mistrust in Mr Grayling, the Minister will never be forgiven if he chooses to go back on his word, revert to type and tries to circumvent Parliament on an issue which has, in fact, brought the entire rail privatisation policy into question.
If he wants to build bridges with MPs, and demonstrate that he does understand the residual anger that still exists in the North over his many broken promises and snubs, he can start by pledging to be more transparent and accountable at all times – and not just when it suits his own timetable.