Cabinet minister rubbishes claims Boris Johnson is ‘indecisive’

15 November 2020, 12:36

George Eustice defends PM over apparent chaos in Downing Street

By Joe Cook

The environment secretary has hit back at suggestions that Boris Johnson is indecisive following a string of high profile government U-turns.

George Eustice told LBC’s Swarbrick on Sunday he believes the Prime Minister is a decisive leader and dismissed the reports of turmoil in Number 10 as “gossip” and merely “an episode involving personnel”.

Senior Tories have called on Mr Johnson to use the departure of his top advisers Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain as an opportunity to “reset the government”.

During Mr Cummings’ time as senior adviser there were complaints from Tory MPs that the party was not being listened to and that foreseeable U-turns have been made.

With media reports of another upcoming government U-turn over plans to change the planning permission system, LBC’s Tom Swarbrick pressed Mr Eustice to explain which decisions the government has made that it actually stuck to in the past few months.

“There will be many, many decisions that we have made and have stuck to,” the environment secretary said, “we made a decision to do this latest lockdown and we are sticking to that and that will last until the 2 December”.

Read more: Boris takes back control after Cummings exit

George Eustice gives update on Brexit negotiations

But Tom noted that Boris Johnson had previously told Parliament a second national lockdown “would not be the right course” and would “do such damage to our economy as to erode our long-term ability to fund the NHS and other crucial public services”.

Mr Eustice retorted that the PM “changed on that because the situation changed, but we have now got that lockdown until the 2 December”.

“Like all prime ministers he is making lots and lots of decisions all the time, particularly at a very difficult time with the pandemic,” he continued.

“That is an evolving, moving situation where sometimes, yes, you have to change tack and adapt your approach to deal with an emerging situation.

“But on all of the other key areas - let’s take leaving the EU, he was clear that we would leave, that we would leave at the end of this year, clear that we would not extend the transition period and we didn’t.”

Read more: Expert urges against 'flip-flopping' between pandemic and economy

Read more: David Davis: UK guilty of 'really low calibre of pandemic planning'

David Davis: 'Downing Street has not been very functional'

Following Friday’s departure of Dominic Cummings, rumours about why the senior aide quit have been circulating throughout the British media.

One report suggested the PM was angered by claims a No10 faction, headed by Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain, had been "briefing against him" and his fiancee Carrie Symonds, who they allegedly labelled "Princess Nut Nuts".

Boris Johnson had said Lee Cain was a "true ally and friend" and would be "much missed", after accepting his resignation on Thursday.

Read more: Why has Dominic Cummings quit Downing Street?

Watch: 'Writing has been on the wall' for Cummings - former special adviser

Mr Eustice told Swarbrick on Sunday “he did not know if” the atmosphere in Number 10 was “toxic”, as Tom suggested, but conceded “there have obviously been some toxic briefings”.

“I have not immersed myself in the gossip of this, who called who what names, whether people were upset or whether they cried.”

“From my point of view, as a cabinet minister, there has been an episode involving personnel at Number 10.

“The prime minister has taken a decision that he wants to change the balance of his advisors, but this is about advisors to the prime minister, it is not about the government.”

James O'Brien reacts to Johnson's second national lockdown U-turn

On Thursday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told LBC’s Nick Ferrari the reports of "squabbling" at Number 10 were "pathetic".

"We're in the middle of a pandemic, we're all worried about our health and our families, we're all worried about our jobs, and this lot are squabbling behind the door of Number 10”, he said.

"It's pathetic. Pull yourselves together, focus on the job in hand."

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