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Editorial The Tories are the real extremists

CHRIS GRAYLING is not a byword for competence. But with a government falling apart around him he no longer stands out from the crowd of ministers.

An administration that constantly harps on about Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour being a threat to national security fires its defence secretary for leaking classified information.

The minister in question insists on his innocence, but this can neither be confirmed nor ruled out since whether to launch a criminal probe into what Labour correctly points out is an accusation of criminal activity is entirely up to the PM – and she considers the matter closed.

The Tory, Blairite and Establishment media claim that Corbyn’s Labour is a security threat was always nonsensical. Those making it include a PM who, as home secretary, allowed intelligence services to let known terror risks travel to and from the Libyan war zone, including Salman Abedi whose Manchester Arena bombing killed 22 innocent people, as well as cheerleaders for acts of international lawlessness such as the invasion of Iraq which put rocket boosters under terrorist groups worldwide and gave birth to Islamic State.

And as so often, the crime for which a minister is defenestrated pales in comparison to their previous conduct. Williamson is a warmonger who rattled the sabre at Russia (as well as embarrassing our country with his infantile injunction to Moscow to “go away and shut up”), earned a rebuke from the Chancellor for annoying China by threatening to send warships into its waters and talked of establishing new military bases in Latin America. 

He is sacked for leaking advice from a meeting on the Chinese company Huawei’s role in building Britain’s new 5G wireless network.

While the monitoring power being amassed by major technology firms is frightening and more needs to be done to contain it, the government’s refusal to bend the knee to Donald Trump’s extraterritorial pretensions and ban Huawei for no better reason than the company being Chinese is actually one of its few defensible decisions and the exposure of these top-secret discussions is unlikely to have genuinely compromised national security.

He is replaced by a minister equally associated with making a fool of herself, in this case because of a prank more fitted to the schoolroom than the “Mother of Parliaments” and which might have demeaned the Palace of Westminster if that august institution had any reputation left worth salvaging.

So “failing Grayling” is not so much the government’s Achilles heel as a typical Tory. And his response in the Commons to calls to scrap Heathrow expansion were a good illustration of the Tory mindset on climate change.

A day before, Parliament became the world’s first sovereign assembly to declare climate change a national emergency, thanks to Labour’s motion to do exactly that.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove indicated that he agreed with Corbyn on climate change being an emergency – but opposed declaring it to be one. Presumably because an official declaration might require the government to do something.

Similarly, Grayling says Britain must urgently reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, but then says it can do this while committing to significantly increase air travel. Indeed, the enormous wealth that will be produced by all these extra flights will “deliver the environmental technologies that will clean up the planet.”

The mantra of the Reverend Timms, of Postman Pat fame, was “the Lord will provide.” Grayling has similar faith in the market. The total failure of market forces to address climate change doesn’t trouble him. The fact that capitalism’s relentless extraction of profit might actually be driving climate change is no problem, since all we need to do is accelerate the process and a solution will somehow emerge.

Such myopic market mania raises the question as to which of Britain’s main parties is led by dangerous extremists.

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