Boris under fire, again, for his choice of Whitehall Chair

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Boris Johsnon under fire, whitehall, institute of government, Baroness Stuart
source. Gov.uk

Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minster, is once again under fire, this time for his choice of Vote Leave Chair to oversee a commission with responsibility for ensuring the civil service is impartial. Baroness Gisela Stuart, who campaigned with Johnson during the Brexit referendum, is a former Labour MP and crossbench peer who wanted to help “get Brexit done”.

Baroness Stuart said that she wanted to “maintain the excellence and impartiality of the civil service” and that it was “a great honour to be nominated”.

The choice however hasn’t gone down well with Labour who condemned the choice saying it was “deeply inappropriate” to appoint someone who lead a divisive political campaign, to be tasked with overseeing impartiality in Whitehall.

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Speaking on behalf of Labour Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Fleur Anderson MP, said “Baroness Stuart has had an admirable career, but she is a former elected politician and chaired a national political campaign.”

She continued saying: “There are huge questions marks over whether she can uphold the independence and integrity of this role and my Labour colleagues believe this is a deeply inappropriate appointment.” Referring to the importance of the role and the recent furore ovdr Christmas parties she said “On a day when junior civil servants are being hung out to dry, the neutrality of this position is more important than ever.”

The government have defended Baroness Stuart saying that she has a history of contributing to public life in “non-partisan roles”, such as at the Royal Mint and the Cabinet Office.


Not everyone is happy

Alex Thomas, Programme Director at the Institute for Government, has raised concerns over the appointment of a politician to the role – the first time since 1909. Voicing his opinion that Baroness Stuart served as chair of the Vote Leave campaign, was not an issue, Thomas said “Asking a politician to do this role is problematic. The very essence of the job is to safeguard the impartiality of the civil service. It makes it difficult to discharge that function credibly.”

Confirmation

Baroness Stuart’s appointment is understood not yet confirmed and the expectation is that she will appear before the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee. That appearance will enable the government to consider the views of MPs’ views before approving her appointment.

The news that Boris Johnson is once again under fire for looking after those who helped him to a Brexit and an election win, is no surprise to many.



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