Departure of the Previous Home Secretary Debate

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Baroness Smith of Basildon

Main Page: Baroness Smith of Basildon (Labour - Life peer)

Departure of the Previous Home Secretary

Baroness Smith of Basildon Excerpts
Thursday 20th October 2022

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Smith of Basildon Portrait Baroness Smith of Basildon (Lab)
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My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for repeating the earlier statement about the crisis in government. I had intended to ask a number of questions about the resignation or sacking of the Home Secretary and, indeed, ask whether he could say anything more about the resignation or sacking of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We have had one of the shortest-serving Chancellors of the Exchequer in history, the shortest-serving Home Secretary ever and now, as we were sitting in the Chamber waiting for the statement, the Prime Minister has announced her resignation.

What an utter shambles this Government are. Crisis after crisis is heaped on this Government and yet, who is paying the price for that? It is the people of this country, who are seeing food prices go up and increased fuel bills, and they do not know what is happening to their mortgage payments. The Government think the answer to all this is to reshuffle the deck chairs on the “Titanic”. Perhaps the noble Earl is answering questions today because he is the only member of the Government left. This is not a game of pass the parcel, whereby the office of Prime Minister is in the personal gift of the Conservative Party, which can keep passing it on like it is Buggins’s turn. That is not how it works.

I said yesterday at the Dispatch Box on another issue that the Prime Minister’s job is one of the most important in the country. It is a job that brings enormous responsibility, particularly when the country is in such a state. This Government now have no mandate to govern. Replacing the top person with another top person who has been around the Cabinet table for all the years that have led to this crisis will not address it. The next Prime Minister who serves this country needs to have the consent of the British people. It is a straightforward issue: no Government should be able to govern without consent.

This morning I did an interview on BBC Essex with a very articulate and distressed member of the Conservative Party and a Liberal Democrat. The lady from the Conservative Party came on to defend the Government and say that there should not be a general election. She had changed her mind overnight after the shenanigans in the other place. So, there are a number of questions to be asked about the resignation of the Home Secretary, but there is a greater and more fundamental question that the Government need to address as a matter of urgency. There is no mandate for this Government any longer. It is not just a case of taking one person from the top and putting in someone else. Each time we have seen the change, there has been a fundamental shift in policy. This is not what the people of this country voted for. It is time for the Government to seek a mandate, move over and let somebody else run the country who can do it better.

Earl of Courtown Portrait The Earl of Courtown (Con)
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My Lords, I note what the noble Baroness has to say on various issues that are not really relevant to this exact Urgent Question. She mentioned the situation relating to the former Home Secretary and the former Chancellor of the Exchequer. The fact is that it was clear that there was a breach in Cabinet confidentiality and a breach of the Ministerial Code. This was accepted by my right honourable friend the former Home Secretary, who immediately resigned. As far as my right honourable friend the former Chancellor of the Exchequer is concerned, as noble Lords know, the Prime Minister can request a resignation for any number of reasons. Details of the former Chancellor’s resignation were shared in the exchange of letters last Friday. These are different cases with different causes.