Theresa May’s first mistake

Only a month since their appointment, two of our more prominent Ministers are into a turf war. Since it’s now resulted in a copy letter to Theresa May — and presumably leaked to the media — it would seem to be a more bitter dispute than usual requiring her judgement.

It’s between Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary and Liam Fox, Minister for International Trade — particularly of the larger repertoire of trade Britain will need when we leave the EU. Apparently there’s a bunch of economists within the Foreign Office and Fox wants them to transfer to his department. Johnson reuses to let them go. So there we are, Johnson and Fox are at each other’s throats just like a pair of rutting stags.

This power squabble is one of the many indulgences of Westminster politicians which angers the electorate. In this case, it’s not that ordinary people are unaware of personal ambition. There’s nothing wrong with it as such and, after all, most of the electorate spend up to the hilt on status goods in order to satisfy their own social aspirations. But politicians are elected precisely to be different — to carry out their promises to serve their constituents first and foremost — not to engage in personal feuds.

The Prime Minister will no doubt sort this out one way or another but she can’t afford to lose her own political capital by sacking both of them. But she should never have raised either of these two to ministerial positions from what has been clearly known of their personalities and past behaviour. Appointing them has been a mistake. How serious it might turn out to be in due course remains to be seen.

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