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Tory cabinet in crisis and we can get them out

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Issue 2579
Priti Patel has been having secret talks with Israeli government officials
Priti Patel has been having secret talks with Israeli government officials

Tory rule stands on the shakiest of foundations.

In all, by Tuesday seven Tory MPs were facing investigations or had already been forced to resign as ministers. Cabinet meetings must be a joy at the moment.

One Tory MP told the BBC, “I’ve never seen anything like it.” They went on to predict that the government wouldn’t survive and if it fell apart Jeremy Corbyn would likely win the next election.

Priti Patel, the minister for international development, has been caught out having secret talks with Israeli government officials, including prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, while supposedly on a “family holiday”.

She then lied about the number of meetings she attended, only later “clarifying her position”.

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson was meant to be defending a British woman from jail in Iran when he instead got her prison sentence doubled.

He claimed that she was training journalists, something that her family and employer deny.The bungle got another five years added onto her sentence.

And the Westminster sexual harassment and abuse scandal keeps claiming scalps.

Theresa May’s deputy prime minister Damian Green is on the ropes. He’s accused of harassing a journalist and of having “extreme pornography” on a computer in his office.


Former senior cop Bob Quick told a parliamentary committee in 2009 that Green “was resisting any attempt” to “view the content of his computers” during a 2008 investigation into leaks.

Green could go at any time. Defence secretary Michael Fallon has already gone.

May has been reduced to feebly attempting to put out fires.

On Tuesday she responded to the revelations about Patel’s secret meeting by saying there would be a review of the ministerial codes of conduct.

May and other Tories seek to present themselves as outraged reformers dealing with a few bad apples. The truth is the whole barrel is rotten and needs to be smashed.

The abuse and harassment allegations aren’t new. Some of them date back over a decade. Spooks, Tory whips and other senior figures knew about them and did nothing.

An investigation by Channel 4 News in 2014 found that a third of female members of staff at Westminster had been harassed, the majority of them under 25.

In response the Tories initiated a voluntary code of conduct. An email from the whip’s office, headed by Michael Gove at the time, told MPs the code of conduct was “entirely a matter for you to handle”.

To make sure the Tories can’t shrug off the current crisis in the same way, there must be pressure from below.

Whether that’s strikes over pay, a battle against racism or a resurgence of the Women’s March protests, we need struggle to kick the foul Tories out.

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