There were a few cocked eyebrows among the pundits that former Spook-mistress, Dame Pauline Neville-Jones (as near as dammit, Judi Dench’s M), had demanded her P45. And so conveniently, over the weekend when the said political pundits should have been sleeping off the excesses of “Super Thursday”.
It is, therefore, intriguing to find Paul Goodman playing a straight defensive bat on Con Home. Goodman takes guard with an extended scaping of the wicket involving Neville-Jones’s non-replacement, Angela Browning. Browning’s previous parliamentary zenith was as a PUS at Min of Ag and Fish. High powered stuff, but not in the Neville-Jones stratosphere.
Then Goodman offers the backward defensive, as taught to Malcolm, aged 11, at Fakenham Grammar School (with little advantage to Malcolm’s career batting average):
There was no crisis, no rupture, no disagreement. Sources close to Neville-Jones confirm that she was entirely happy with “the broad drift of policy”.
A Home Office minister reported to have had a ‘difficult’ relationship with her boss, Theresa May, resigned last night.
Baroness Neville-Jones quit the post of Security and Counter-Terrorism Minister, which she had held since the Coalition was formed.
She gave no reasons in her resignation letter to David Cameron. Downing Street said she had stepped down ‘at her own request’.
But sources suggested she had argued repeatedly with both Home Secretary Mrs May and Liberal Democrat ministers.
A Whitehall source said: ‘She had her fair share of fallings-out with the Home Secretary. Maybe she fell out with the Home Secretary one time too many.’
Lady Neville-Jones, 70, is not retiring and was immediately appointed as Special Representative to Business on Cyber Security.
Whitehall sources said how she still had “lots of energy” and was a forceful character.
The move fuelled suggestions last night that the peer, while getting on with Theresa May, felt decisions on security matters were often made over her head.
And one civil rights campaigner suggested she may have been uncomfortable pushing through controversial police reform plans.
The Home Secretary has taken a very active role in security policy since taking office and it was unclear last night whether the post of security minister would even be filled.
One can sense there a degree of what, in the bad old pre-ConDem days, was termed —