Ed­i­to­rial Com­ment:

The Sunday Telegraph - - Front page -

The West­min­ster ha­rass­ment scan­dal has un­folded just when politi­cians have to make some epochal de­ci­sions, and it will leave many vot­ers won­der­ing if they are up to it. Last week, for in­stance, in­ter­est rates went up. This was an im­por­tant mo­ment, mark­ing the be­gin­ning of the end of an era when cen­tral banks, des­per­ate to stir eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity, chose bor­row­ers over savers. It now has to be followed by a Bud­get that backs busi­ness, house build­ing and in­vest­ment, mar­ried to a Brexit that boosts pro­duc­tiv­ity by ex­pand­ing mar­kets and get­ting the state off our backs. But who is ar­tic­u­lat­ing the vi­sion for this?

Pol­i­tics has felt rud­der­less for a while, and politi­cians all the more in­tro­spec­tive for it. These ac­cu­sa­tions of im­pro­pri­ety pick up old themes: the abuse of power, Byzan­tine plot­ting and, po­ten­tially, putting the in­ter­ests of party be­fore coun­try or the vul­ner­a­ble. A Labour activist says that she was ad­vised not to re­port a sex­ual as­sault be­cause it could dam­age her ca­reer. It is now be­ing asked who knew what and when about an al­le­ga­tion of in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour made a year ago against Tory MP Char­lie El­ph­icke, after which he con­tin­ued to ad­vance through Bri­tish pol­i­tics. A sep­a­rate al­le­ga­tion against him has been taken to the po­lice. Mr El­ph­icke de­nies any wrong­do­ing. And it is re­ported that Sir Michael Fal­lon’s short­com­ings, to which he has ad­mit­ted, were fa­mil­iar to of­fi­cials, de­spite the fact that he was serv­ing in the highly sen­si­tive po­si­tion of de­fence sec­re­tary.

How much the peo­ple who now work closely to Theresa May knew about all of this re­mains to be seen. But if the Gov­ern­ment takes this mat­ter as se­ri­ously as it says it does, which is wel­come news, then it was odd to move Gavin Wil­liamson out of the whips’ of­fice just when a ma­jor scan­dal and the Gov­ern­ment’s slim con­trol of the Com­mons would con­vince many men that they should de­fer their am­bi­tions and stay put. The Tories need com­mon sense and team­work. They will have to re­turn to the EU ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble soon and shep­herd crit­i­cal leg­is­la­tion through the Com­mons. The sooner Par­lia­ment is cleaned up, the bet­ter. If there is to be a reck­on­ing with the past, so be it – but it must not dis­tract from the coun­try’s fu­ture.

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