Deputy prime minister Damian Green's sacking shatters the claim that Theresa May’s government has regained the initiative.
The Financial Times newspaper said the Brexit agreement meant “a period of rare calm in her Conservative party”.
And former Tory leader William Hague said the government was now on a “surer footing”.
Now it’s all gone wrong again.
Green was found to have made “inaccurate and misleading” statements relating to claims that pornography had been found on a computer in his office in 2008.
Green had lied. His resignation statement says, “I should have been clear that police lawyers talked to my lawyers in 2008 about the pornography on the computers. And that the police raised it with me in a subsequent phone call in 2013.
“I apologise that my statements were misleading on this point.”
He is the third cabinet minister to go in the past seven weeks—and his resignation statement shows that he was pushed. “I regret that I've been asked to resign from the government following breaches of the Ministerial Code,” it says. May sacked him against his wishes.
Her letter to Green says, "I asked you to resign from the government and have accepted your resignation."
Given that Brexit secretary David Davis said he would resign if Green was forced out, further chaos could be ahead.
On 1 November defence secretary Michael Fallon resigned after claims he had behaved inappropriately towards women. Then International development secretary Priti Patel went after details emerged of her 14 unauthorised meetings with Israeli politicians, officials and organisations.
May said she was "extremely sad" at Green’s exit. You bet. Green was a friend and key ally of May within the cabinet and Tory party.
He was a fellow Remain supporter during the Brexit referendum, serving on the board of the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign.
Having surrendered enough to the EU to get to the next stage of Brexit talks, May’s regime seemed to have reached the temporary safe haven of Christmas. Instead the holidays will be marked by further recriminations.
There were further accusations hanging over Green. Journalist Kate Maltby said Green touched her knee during a meeting in a south London pub. She also claimed he sent her another sexually-suggestive message.
Then “friends of Green” disgracefully tried to discredit Maltby’s allegations.
Green now says, “I deeply regret the distress caused to Kate Maltby following her article about me and the reaction to it.
“I did not recognise the events she described in her article, but I clearly made her feel uncomfortable and for this I apologise.”
Disgracefully, despite being sacked, Green will receive a pay-off of nearly £17,000, the Cabinet Office confirmed on Thursday.
The Ministerial and other Pensions and Salaries Act 1991 says all ministers under 65 who lose their jobs and don’t get a new post within three weeks receive three months salary as a severance payment, whatever they have done. How different if you are sacked from your job and try to claim benefits.
If you're sacked, your Jobcentre "work coach" can apply sanctions and stop your benefit until you are deemed to have purged your misconduct.
Green was paid £67,505 a year as a cabinet minister on top of his MP's pay. A quarter of that is £16,876.25.
And he still gets his £74,000 a year MP's money.
Green replaced right wing “family values” advocate Stephen Crabb as work and pensions secretary after May became prime minister. Crabb was forced to stand down after allegations that he sent sexual text messages to a young woman.
As work and pensions secretary until the general election, Green kept pushing through the deadly changes to disability benefits.
This government of homelessness, assaults on migrants, money for the rich and hatred for the poor needs to go.
And Green’s resignation shows up Tory spin that there are just a few sexists in the Conservatives who are being dealt with by the party. Sexism runs right through the government.
But it’s not enough to watch May's regime crumbling.
The New Year must be a year of real resistance from Labour and the trade union leaders that can drive the Tories out.