What hope for Brexit if Grayling is un­sack­able?

Yorkshire Post - - OPINION -

EVEN THOUGH Chris Grayling pro­vides great ma­te­rial for car­toon­ists like my col­league Graeme Ban­deira whose work fea­tures in ev­ery Satur­day, the state of the rail­ways are no laugh­ing mat­ter for all those pas­sen­gers still at the mercy of the Trans­port Sec­re­tary and his co­horts.

Their com­mute has be­come, and re­mains, a liv­ing hell – and this is be­fore this week­end’s ‘dou­ble whammy’ that will see on­go­ing RMT strike ac­tion to­day fol­lowed by a new timetable to­mor­row.

Ban­deira, a long-suf­fer­ing com­muter him­self, is prob­a­bly right – the trains due at Christ­mas will prob­a­bly not ar­rive un­til Easter. And this news­pa­per makes no apol­ogy for high­light­ing the plight of rail pas­sen­gers here for­got­ten by Mr Grayling who now goes by the name ‘Fail­ing’ – or ‘Ma­cav­ity’ when he tries to shirk his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties – be­cause his track record has been calami­tous in ev­ery min­is­te­rial job he has held.

And, af­ter this news­pa­per re­vealed this week how the per­for­mance of North­ern and Tran­sPen­nine Ex­press trains are get­ting worse, not bet­ter, fol­low­ing May’s cat­a­strophic timetable change, our stance is fur­ther vin­di­cated by the find­ings of the Par­lia­men­tary in­quiry now con­cluded by the Trans­port Com­mit­tee.

Very crit­i­cal of Mr Grayling’s ig­no­rance of the hard­ship suf­fered by dis­abled pas­sen­gers, para­graph 61 is damn­ing and goes to the heart of the is­sue. “2018 was a year in which huge in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture was in­tended to un­lock much needed ad­di­tional ca­pac­ity on the rail­ways and pro­duce very sub­stan­tial ben­e­fits for pas­sen­gers,” it said. one of the great mys­ter­ies of these times – and ex­plains why the pub­lic have such lit­tle trust or con­fi­dence in our na­tional politi­cians. And this is be­fore Brexit hits the buf­fers. For, if the Gov­ern­ment can­not run ba­sic ser­vices, what hope is there of its EU ne­go­ti­a­tion com­ing off?

EVEN THOUGH Har­ro­gate MP An­drew Jones was ap­pointed Rail Minister on Novem­ber 13, he is still to pub­lish a sin­gle tweet about his new role – or when he in­tends to meet pas­sen­gers. What’s stop­ping you?

BREAK­ING NEWS. A York­shire Tory MP has spo­ken up in de­fence of ‘pub­lic trans­port’. Un­for­tu­nately Selby and Ain­sty’s Nigel Adams was re­spond­ing in his new ca­pac­ity as a Minister – for Wales. Not much good here.

MORE BAD news for North­ern pas­sen­gers – ad­verts have been placed this week for ‘rail re­place­ment bus drivers’ and also ‘sta­tion co-or­di­na­tors’ for RMT strike days. How about both sides talk­ing to each other?

Mean­while the toi­let door was not shut­ting on one of North­ern’s Brad­ford to Ilk­ley trains this week and the guard told pas­sen­gers that noth­ing could be done. Talk about tak­ing the p***.

SO THE Com­mit­tee on Stan­dards con­cluded that Boris Johnson failed “to reg­is­ter re­mu­ner­a­tion within the re­quired timetable on nine oc­ca­sions”. The out­side in­come, largely from book roy­al­ties, came to a to­tal £53,000. I ven­ture that this lack of or­gan­i­sa­tion makes the for­mer For­eign Sec­re­tary un­fit to be a MP – never mind PM. THIS WEEK’S row over the pub­li­ca­tion of Brexit le­gal ad­vice shows how trust has been eroded. When Michael He­sel­tine was De­fence Sec­re­tary, the Op­po­si­tion wanted to see clas­si­fied pa­pers over the sink­ing of the in the Falk­lands war. What did he do? He in­vited the Select Com­mit­tee for De­fence to his of­fice to read the pa­pers. “There were no problems, no ques­tions and no leaks and the is­sue was suc­cess­fully re­solved,” he said.

I THOUGHT of the late Pres­i­dent Ge­orge HW Bush when I spot­ted a Leeds Coun­cil at­ten­dant pe­nal­is­ing a self­ish – and able-bod­ied – mo­torist for il­le­gally park­ing in a dis­abled bay in Guise­ley, and not ac­cept­ing any of the ex­cuses of­fered. Of all the el­der states­man’s many qual­i­ties, land­mark leg­is­la­tion on dis­abil­ity ac­cess was one of his more un­her­alded lega­cies – on both sides of the At­lantic.

THERE IS a great anec­dote in Sir Michael Parkin­son’s new book

Asked by Barrie Heads, a one time col­league at ,ifhe fan­cied a job as a TV pro­ducer, he felt he wasn’t qual­i­fied. “Don’t worry, nei­ther do the rest of us,” replied Heads. And that is how an un­par­al­leled ca­reer in broad­cast­ing be­gan. Some story.

FI­NALLY, IF you switch off the TV when BBC po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor Laura Kuenss­berg pops up, you’re not alone. The great showjumper Har­vey Smith does like­wise – and calls her as ‘Laura Glooms­berg’. Well, it made me smile...

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