IT was always said that Jo Johnson was more level-headed than his omnipresent older brother Boris, the ex-Foreign Secretary.
Wrong. Johnson junior’s resignation as Transport Minister, in order to campaign for a second referendum on Brexit, revealed his true colours.
After all, he was an author of the 2015 Tory manifesto which promised a referendum on EU membership. Did he not believe what he wrote?
He then voted in favour of triggering Article 50, thereby beginning Britain’s tortuous divorce from the European Union.
Worst of all, he waited – cowardly and despicably – until Theresa May was out of the country, representing the UK at events in Belgium and Brussels to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice, before announcing his resignation last Friday without warning.
And then the whole Johnson clan – big brother, father and sister – took to the airwaves to provide a running commentary on where this left the siblings who, let it be remembered, hold totally contrary views on Brexit that mirror the national divide.
The Johnsons might think they’re more important than the rest of the country, but they certainly don’t know how to conduct themselves honourably.
JUST like the long wait for a train, it then took 10 Downing Street over three days to confirm Jo Johnson’s replacement at the Department for Transport.
It saw Jesse Norman promoted internally to become Chris Grayling’s number two and, in turn, his role taken by Harrogate MP Andrew Jones.
In one sense, it’s pleasing that the Government acknowledged The Yorkshire Post’s editorial on Monday demanding the appointment of a Northern MP in order to end the monopoly of southerners at the DfT.
Yet, if Mr Jones is the best person for the job, why was he shunted to the backbenches after holding a junior transport brief between the 2015 and 2017 elections?
The only explanation is no one else was willing to catch the Failing Grayling Express at the DfT.
THIS has been another week which has seen Chris Grayling’s competence as Transport Secretary called into question.
Though he can’t be blamed (too much) for new rolling stock intended for the trans-Pennine line having defective brakes, he is at fault for the DfT edict ordering drivers of diesel trains to switch off idling engines at stations in order to cut pollution.
Not only are some of these trains so old – I see them from my office window every day – that there’s no guarantee the spluttering engines will restart, but it makes a mockery of Mr Grayling’s decision to downgrade the electrification of two key rail routes serving Yorkshire.
EVEN though it is the use of police ‘stop and search’ powers which has been shaping the national debate on violent crime, it is the Government which needs to be stopping, thinking – and searching for new solutions.
To its credit, the Home Office does not intend to reverse these necessary reforms, introduced by Theresa May, that compelled the police to meet key criteria to stop people from ethnic minority backgrounds being singled out unfairly.
It is working. Even though a million fewer people are ‘stopped and searched’ each year compared to 2010, the proportion of suspects then arrested has risen from nine to 17 per cent according to Nick Hurd, a Home Office Minister.
Yet, even before West Yorkshire’s chief constable Dee Collins warned that crime could rise on her patch by a fifth because under-strain policing budgets have reached ‘a tipping point’, Mr Hurd was on the receiving end of similar warnings in the House of Commons.
Take Sir Mike Penning MP who said “the best intelligence is the bobby who thinks he needs to do stop and search, and that is what we need to see more of”. He’s not a usual suspect – he’s a former Police Minister.
Or Richard Drax who called for “more bobbies on the beat to get the intelligence that we need to make stop and search far more effective”. This Tory MP and ex-soldier used similar powers during three tours of duty in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles.
Or former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith who said the police “need to apply the process much better, so that we make it clear to those people moving guns and weapons around that there is a high likelihood of their being stopped and searched”.
If such high-profile Tories have such misgivings after a 19 per cent cut to police budgets since 2010, then the Government needs to think again ahead of next month’s announcement on funding.
For, while more street patrols needs to go hand-in-hand with a better understanding across national and local government of the gang culture fuelling knife and gun crime, particularly amongst disenfranchised young men, the Conservatives can – at the present rate – hardly call themselves the party of law and order.
FINALLY, please contrast President Donald Trump’s rudeness and behaviour in France at the Armistice centenary with the poise of his predecessor Ronald Reagan when he travelled to Normandy in 1984 to mark the 40th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
In tribute to all those who took part in the mission, the then President said: “Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their valour, and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died. Thank you very much, and God bless you all.”
This is how real statesmen conduct themselves. President Trump, please note.