Government says Chris Grayling chosen for intelligence chair job for ‘range of experience’
PUBLISHED: 09:39 13 July 2020 | UPDATED: 09:50 13 July 2020
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Former transport minister Chris Grayling was not a ‘parachute’ appointment 10 Downing Street has insisted, ahead of a vote which is set to elect him chair of the influential Commons intelligence committee.
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Government whips have been instructed to ensure Tory MPs support Grayling - who was nicknamed ‘Failing Grayling’ for his role as transport minister - during the election of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) chair.
It will then be for the House of Commons and Lords to back the nomination, with other nominees for the committee to include Tory MPs Theresa Villiers, Sir John Hayes, Julian Lewis and Mark Pritchard, Labour MPs Dame Diana Johnson and Kevan Jones, the Labour peer Admiral Lord West and the SNP MP Stewart Hosie.
A spokesman for Boris Johnson denied that Downing Street had parachuted the MP into the role.
They said: “All nominees are senior parliamentarians with a range of experience including government, opposition and in parliament.
“We believe that will ensure a robust and effective scrutiny of the security services.”
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Questioned on whether Tory MPs were being whipped to back Grayling, the spokesman added: “The chair will be agreed by the committee itself once it has gone through all the stages in parliament.”
But Lib Dem MP and leadership candidate said that “this could be the first time in history that Chris Grayling appears in the same sentence as intelligence”.
She explained: “This is the man who paid a ferry contract to a company with no ships and oversaw the catastrophic privatisation of probation.
“I challenge Grayling to prove he isn’t a puppet of Dominic Cummings, and to release the Russia report that has spent months languishing on a desk in Whitehall. The public deserves to know the truth.”
Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, said that the committee must remain independent of government.
He said it was “critical to its ability to function effectively.”
He added: “It is then deeply concerning that the latest plan devised by Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson will aim to parachute Chris Grayling as chair of the committee by putting forward favourable Tory members who will vote him through as chair.
“The chair of the ISC has long been appointed by consensus and this move does nothing less than undermine the role of the ISC and breach its independence.”
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