It is impossible to exaggerate the importance to good government of a scrupulously impartial civil service.
So when top mandarin Sue Gray’s report into Partygate lambasted failings in Downing Street, which played a major role in Boris Johnson’s downfall as prime minister, her credibility rested on her supposed unimpeachable neutrality.
Now we discover she’s not just an ardent Labour supporter, she is soon to be a key player in Sir Keir Starmer’s inner circle.
Until her shock resignation yesterday, she was entrusted with sensitive information by the Tory Government. As Starmer’s chief of staff, she will be in charge of his campaign to bring it down at the next election.
Ms Gray’s move not only casts doubt on her integrity, it also casts doubt on the legitimacy of her Partygate findings. Allies of Mr Johnson are already convinced he was nobbled by an Establishment and Left-wing stitch-up in revenge for Brexit.
DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Ms Gray’s move not only casts doubt on her integrity, it also casts doubt on the legitimacy of her Partygate findings
Equally disturbing, her damning report into lockdown-flouting parties at No 10 is being treated as crucial evidence by the Commons privileges committee investigating whether Mr Johnson misled Parliament
Equally disturbing, her damning report into lockdown-flouting parties at No 10 is being treated as crucial evidence by the Commons privileges committee investigating whether Mr Johnson misled Parliament. If it finds him guilty, he could lose his seat. But how can he trust that he’ll get a fair hearing?
In hindsight, perhaps Ms Gray’s defection shouldn’t have been such a surprise. After all, the barrister who advised her on the Partygate probe was a card-carrying Labour activist and militant Remainer who expressed hostility to the PM online.
The truth is, these people are not honest brokers. The civil service is steeped in Left-wing (and anti-Brexit) bias, which is why it is so resistant to implementing Tory policies.
As for Starmer, he is a weapons-grade hypocrite. How important it is, he bleats, for bureaucrats to be non-partisan.
His cloth-eared stupidity in so cynically offering Ms Gray a job is breathtaking. This whole unedifying episode truly stinks.
A decent Brexit deal?
There is a maxim in politics that contains much wisdom. Commonly attributed to Voltaire, it cautions against letting perfect be the enemy of the good.
Rishi Sunak will be hoping the DUP and hardline Brexiteers show such pragmatism rather than undermining his Northern Ireland deal in the name of unionist purity.
But there is another saying the Mail also agrees with: Don’t try to pull the wool over voters’ eyes. Because they’re not stupid.
Yes, the Windsor Framework has many things to admire. Bureaucracy hindering trade between Britain and Northern Ireland is mostly being dismantled. Unnecessary obstacles around the movement of medicines, pets and plants have been cleared.
Rishi Sunak, pictured on March 1, will be hoping the DUP and hardline Brexiteers show such pragmatism rather than undermining his Northern Ireland deal in the name of unionist purity
The Prime Minister deserves great credit for these achievements, which should materially improve life for families and businesses in the province.
Unfortunately, No 10 has accompanied the agreement with lashings of spin. Listening to Mr Sunak, you’d think it was nothing less than the Second Coming.
Yet the EU retains a right to interfere in Northern Ireland’s laws, VAT and state aid and the European Court of Justice remains the arbiter of trade disputes.
It’s hardly surprising, then, that some think the deal looks less like a new car than the same old model with a fresh lick of paint.
After a level-headed and forensic analysis of the detail, Boris Johnson was entitled to say he would find it ‘difficult to vote for’.
He was right that Mr Sunak’s pact will be for nothing if we don’t now make the most of Brexit by turbo-charging the economy – starting with cutting corporation tax.
But he’s also correct that people have other priorities, including the cost of living and Channel migrants. After seven years of Brexit squabbling, most just want to move on.
So the real question to answer on Mr Sunak’s deal is this: It’s plainly not perfect. But is it good enough?