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IFG - Former ministers reveal experiences of May and Cameron governments

Chris Grayling, David Lidington, Jeremy Hunt and James Brokenshire have given candid interviews about their time serving as ministers for former prime ministers David Cameron and Theresa May.

The interviews, which give insight into their experiences of the Brexit process, are published by the Institute for Government and form part of the IfG’s Ministers Reflect series. Full transcripts are also attached.

In the interviews:

  • Former transport and justice secretary Chris Grayling claims that “nobody’s really in charge” of railway timetabling changes.
  • David Lidington, Theresa May’s de facto deputy, says it was a “mistake” to create DExEU and “there should have been a different approach to Brexit negotiations from the start”.
  • Former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt admits it was a “deliberate decision” to take Brexit out of the Foreign Office when Boris Johnson was foreign secretary.
  • Former Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire recalls the “despair” in Dublin during the early days of Brexit talks.

Highlights include:

  • Chris Grayling on the railway timetabling fiasco: “The big lesson of the timetable change is the big flaw of the railways, which is that nobody’s really in charge.”
  • Chris Grayling on rehabilitation in prisons: “In 2015, pretty much everybody who had been involved in the transforming rehabilitation programme left. The ministers all left, the senior officials all left, and it did not get the tweaking and fine-tuning that it needed.”
  • Jeremy Hunt on junior doctors: “I recognise, with the benefit of hindsight, that my communication with junior doctors could have been better.”
  • Jeremy Hunt on taking Brexit away from the Foreign Office: “It was a deliberate decision to take Brexit out of the hands of the Foreign Office while Boris was foreign secretary, that was what No. 10 intended.”
  • David Lidington on DExEU: “It was a mistake to create DExEU [the Department for Exiting the European Union] as a separate department.”
  • David Lidington on Brexit negotiations: “There should have been a different approach to the [Brexit] negotiations at the start, because I think it would have been possible then to come to the deal earlier.”
  • James Brokenshire on Ireland’s reaction to Brexit: “Going down to Dublin to try and talk to people there about Brexit, where clearly there was a lot of… almost verging on despair in those early days.”
  • James Brokenshire on Northern Ireland: “This isn't something that you can almost devolve and forget. I think there is a mindset that almost takes that approach. I think that's profoundly wrong.”

Notes to editors

  1. Full interviews can be found on the Ministers Reflect website.
  2. The Institute for Government is an independent think tank that works to make government more effective.

For more information, including data to reproduce any charts, please contact press@instituteforgovernment.org.uk / 0785 031 3791

Associated projects: 

Original article link: https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/news/latest/former-ministers-reveal-experiences-may-and-cameron-governments

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