Better late than never, Sir Humphrey is on his bike. Why has it taken Boris so long to get rid of him?
Mark Sedwill should have been given his P45 the day Johnson moved into Downing Street. I said as much in this column more than a year ago, when it became apparent that Mother Theresa was toast.
Under Mrs May, this unelected civil servant had accumulated an unhealthy, unprecedented amount of power.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) relieved Sir Mark Sedwill from his duties as Head of the Civil Service last week, but why has it taken him so long to get rid of him?
May was so hopelessly reliant on Sedwill that she made him Cabinet Secretary, Head of the Civil Service and National Security Adviser — the first person to hold all three jobs simultaneously.
Even that wasn’t enough to satisfy Sedwill’s rapacious appetite for power. According to a Whitehall source quoted in a newspaper profile last summer: ‘He can’t cope with the fact that he is not Prime Minister.’
That didn’t stop him behaving as if he was PM. He regularly treated Cabinet Ministers with disdain, warning Gavin Williamson, then Defence Secretary: ‘Don’t underestimate how vindictive I can be.’
That threat came after Williamson was accused of leaking details of May’s decision to involve Huawei in building Britain’s 5G mobile phone network, despite uneasy opposition from ministers, the security services and our closest allies.
Under Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May (pictured), Sedwill had accumulated an unhealthy, unprecedented amount of power
Sedwill was the main cheerleader for Huawei, even leading a delegation of 15 senior Whitehall officials on a vainglorious jaunt to Beijing — aimed at bypassing ministers and establishing himself as the main point of contact between the British government and the Chinese.
A fervent Remainer, with undisguised contempt for elected politicians and the democratic process, Sedwill took it upon himself arbitrarily to order preparations for a No Deal Brexit scrapped.
One of the architects of Project Fear, he authored a (conveniently leaked) memo warning of food price rises and civil unrest in Northern Ireland unless May’s dismal surrender deal was passed.
He ruthlessly exploited her weakness to bolster his own position. Talk to anyone who attended meetings at Downing Street and, previously, the Home Office. They will tell you she contributed next to nothing and always deferred to Sedwill.
Let’s not forget, either, that the parlous state of the Home Office — on everything from policing to the Windrush scandal and the chaotic asylum system — owes much to the Sedwill/May double act.
When Johnson arrived at Number 10, he clipped Sedwill’s wings but kept him around.
We can only speculate as to why, but I’m assuming that because Sedwill had spent so much time right at the heart of government he knows where all the bodies are buried.
That would also explain why Boris has dreamed up a fancy new job title for Sedwill rather than simply giving him the elbow altogether.
He’ll be gone sooner rather than later, though, complete with his peerage and a few company directorships to soften the blow. Maybe the Chinese are looking for a consultant who knows his way around Whitehall.
Still, dumping Sedwill is a promising start and a sign that BoJo is getting his mojo back.
The fact that Johnson (pictured right) has got rid of Sedwill (left) is a sign that the PM is getting his mojo back
Sir Humphrey represents everything that’s wrong with the British Civil Service, a self-proclaimed Rolls-Royce which functions about as well as a clapped-out Lada.
In the case of Brexit, the Civil Service attempted to thwart the democratically expressed will of the people.
So did the Speaker of the Commons and a large number of MPs who had promised to honour the outcome of the referendum. The ghastly Bercow is now history, Boris has an 80-seat majority which will allow him to Get Brexit Done. But the hardest task now lies ahead.
The Prime Minister needs to begin tearing down the Establishment with the same ruthless determination the Black Lives Matter mob is applying to toppling statues.
The defenestration of Sedwill has to be more than symbolic. The whole system of civil administration is in dire need of urgent and comprehensive reform.
Dominic Cummings understands this better than most, which is why Boris clung to him despite his difficulties over breaking lockdown rules he helped to write. If this Government is to succeed, the entire culture and ideology have to be overhauled.
Here are a few ideas. More mandarins like Sedwill must be shown the door, pour encourager les autres, and replaced by competent Conservative-leaning business leaders from the private sector.
No branch of government should be spared the ‘hard rain’ of reform. Boris will be accused of ‘politicising’ the system, but what the hell does anyone think has been happening for the past few decades?
It’s all been in one direction, too. Frankly, it’s incredible that after ten years of a Tory government (admittedly half of it in coalition with the Lib Dems) virtually every single institution remains in the hands of leaders who all subscribe to the self-styled ‘liberal’ agenda.
Look at the way the police have meekly — and literally — bent the knee to the quasi-Marxist rabble behind Black Lives Matter, however noble the cause of racial equality may be.
Home Secretary Priti Flamingo should be told to remove any chief constables who refuse to enforce the law impartially and replace them with proper coppers.
She should scrap the failed system of civilian police commissioners and make all those chief constables who want to play politics stand for election.
Home Secretary Priti Patel (pictured) should be told to remove any chief constables who refuse to enforce the law impartially
Then the Home Office should be broken up. It hasn’t been ‘fit for purpose’ for years.
Boris has to withdraw from the pernicious European yuman rites racket, which lets judges interpret the law as they choose, like the Supreme Court did over Brexit.
If judges want to be politicians, they too can stand for election, as they do in other countries.
The hideously expensive and utterly superfluous Public Health England must be put out of its misery. While the frontline workers in the health service have performed heroically, the overmanned, overpaid bureaucrats in the back room have been spectacularly dysfunctional, concerned primarily with protecting their own little empires.
The Treasury should get in a few of the finest minds from banking and hedge funds. That would shake the place to its foundations.
The Foreign Office should be turned upside down, and handed over to people who see themselves as representatives of Britain abroad, not emissaries of foreign governments in Whitehall.
That’s enough to be going on with. I’m sure Boris’s blue-eyed son Cummings has a few more ideas. The signs are encouraging. Boris is planning to replace Sedwill with a Brexiteer. Better late than never.
Let the hard rain fall.
When I saw that picture of Boris prostrate on his office floor, I feared for one awful moment that he, too, had capitulated to the Black Lives Matter madness and was taking the knee.
Boris Johnson is not taking a knee here, he is proving to the Mail on Sunday that he has fully recovered from coronavirus by doing press-ups
Turns out he was doing press-ups to convince The Mail on Sunday that he was fully recovered from Covid-19.
He declared himself as ‘fit as a butcher’s dog’ and said he’d never felt better.
Mind you, the photo also immediately reminded me of Norman Stanley Fletcher’s reaction, in Porridge, when he returns to his cell to find young Lennie Godber doing press-ups.
‘Anyone we know?’
Mail reader Ray Norman was rebuffed when he tried to put a comment on the BBC website contrasting the different lifting of the lockdown in England and Scotland.
Ray was puzzled to find he’d fallen foul of the moderators. ‘We reserve the right to fail comments which . . . are considered likely to disrupt, provoke, attack or offend others . . . Are racist, sexist, homophobic, sexually explicit, abusive or otherwise objectionable . . . Contain swear words or other language likely to offend.’
Ray was still confused, so he sought further clarification. The BBC wrote back:
‘Your comment was removed for referring to Nicola Sturgeon as Wee Burney . . . ’
If white chefs are RAY-CIST!!! for using non-indigenous recipes, then Oddjob (pictured) should be cancelled for wearing a bowler hat, the cultural property of English City gents
The Summer of Stupidity has moved on to ‘cultural appropriation’ of curry by white chefs, who are now also damned as RAY-CIST!!! for using non-indigenous recipes.
Some obscure white actress has apologised for having once worn her hair in cornrows, which are only culturally appropriate on women of African heritage.
All this began with students being banned from wearing sombreros because it was RAY-CIST!!! towards Mexicans.
On that basis, Oddjob would have to be cancelled for wearing a bowler hat, the cultural property of English City gents.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the Bronte Parsonage museum contains a pair of Native American moccasins which belonged to Charlotte Bronte.
That’s her off the reading list. And I give the Bronte statue outside her old home in Yorkshire a couple more days before some lunatic tears it down.
Charlotte Bronte must fall!
If those air bridges ever get up and running, don’t be surprised to find them occupied by Extinction Rebellion and a copper on a skateboard.