Jacob Rees-Mogg has defended Downing Street after it was revealed another of Dominic Cummings’ recruits had lost his job for his online comments.
The shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz referenced newspaper reports that a data specialist recruited following Cummings’ call for ‘weirdos and misfits’ had been sacked over comments on social media regarding Black Lives Matters demonstrators.
The Guardian reported that Will O’Shea had joined the Government Digital Service (GDS) in April after seeing the chief adviser’s call.
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He deleted his Twitter account after comments made at the time of the protests that followed the killing of George Floyd.
In response to a tweet suggesting the Met police had been chased out of a London housing estate, he wrote: ‘Time to get out the live rounds.’
He lost his job shortly after, but denies meeting Cummings, but was interviewed by Ben Warner, a former Vote Leave ally who joined the government earlier this year.
Downing Street insists O’Shea was ‘not hired to work in No 10’ but in ‘the Cabinet Office as an external contractor for the Government Digital Service on coronavirus’.
They add that ‘all standard vetting processes were carried out for a contractor role through a commercial framework.’
But his sacking follows the departure of ‘superforecaster’ Andrew Sabisky, who stepped down from his role after his past comments online about his comments on genetics that suggested black people had on average a lower IQ than white people.
The reports have raised questions about recruitment processes in Downing Street.
Calling for an urgent statement on the recruitment process at No 10, Vaz said: ‘There is now yet another person who has applied to the adverts for ‘weirdos and misfits’ who has now had to resign because of their extreme views.
‘And a minister has had to relinquish shares in a company because his company was given a contract under these emergency schemes. Now that goes to the heart of No 10. There is something rotten at the heart of No 10.’
But Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has said it would not be possible to imagine a ‘better functioning, more forward-looking government’ than the one in place.
He said: ‘We are lucky that No 10 Downing Street has such fine people working there – fine intellects, people doing their best for this country, people thinking things through, coming up with inspired ideas, and I do not think it would be possible to imagine a better functioning, more forward-looking government than the one we currently have.
‘Of course the opposition scoffs, but dare I say it, that is in the title of being opposition. As Disraeli said, the job of the opposition to oppose, even when they see the shining beacon of wisdom in front of them as they get in Number 10.’