Minister’s resignation is very serious issue for May

Chris Moncrieff
Chris Moncrieff

It never rains but it pelts down. That must have been the thought running through the prime minister’s mind over the calamitous events of the past week or two.

She was already up to her neck in Brexit and the fall-out from Philip Hammond’s controversial Budget, (where is all the money coming from?) when she found herself confronted by a hugely embarrassing ministerial resignation on her doorstep.

Former sports minister Tracey Crouch is the latest minister to jump ship from the cabinet

Former sports minister Tracey Crouch is the latest minister to jump ship from the cabinet

This was far more serious than a run-of-the-mill resignation. Tracey Crouch quit as sports minister over the government’s delay in implementing a severe crackdown on fixed-odds betting machines, where you can currently stake up to £100 every 20 seconds. The plan is that this should be reduced to £2.

Crouch’s resignation has brought support for her, not merely from some Tory colleagues at Westminster but from MPs of opposition parties, too.

The scale of the criticism on this issue has certainly shocked the government, although May has said there has been no delay.

But in the opinion of a furious Crouch and her supporters, this is hard to swallow.

There is no appetite for a nanny state, but it is certainly a fact that gambling addicts do need some protection afforded by the state.

People have already started to speculate that David Davis, who resigned as Brexit Secretary, is making a subtle bid for the Conservative Party leadership, should Theresa May fall by the wayside.

I find that hard to believe.

When some years ago he put up for the leadership, he was easily beaten by David Cameron for the job. A day or two after his defeat, I bumped into Davis at London’s Euston Station.

When I told him I was sorry about the outcome, he replied simply: “I’m not.”

Davis has many qualities, but his seemingly laid back attitude leaves you with the distinct impression that leadership is not among those qualities.

Indeed, many people take the view that he should have done much more table banging than he did when dealing with the Brussels negotiators.

So, we will not after all be having the pleasure or otherwise (depending on your point of view) of seeing and hearing David Cameron back in front-line politics.

Friends of the former prime minister have wasted no opportunity in denying that he was hankering to get back into the political big time again. When reports of his alleged ambitions to be back at Westminster started to emerge, there were those who suggested Cameron himself was putting his toe in the water to see what the response would be.

Well, the response was certainly not flattering. It could be summed up as: “Good grief, not him again,” which must certainly have killed any appetite he had to return to the green benches.

Many people, rightly or wrongly, blame Cameron for the turmoil over Brexit.

So, I am afraid he will have to satisfy himself by struggling through his memoirs.

By all accounts, Sir Keir Starmer, shadow Brexit secretary, is embarrassed by or ashamed of his knighthood. It is certainly true the title of the former head of the Criminal Prosecution Service does not sit comfortably amid the left-wingers on the Opposition front bench.

However, it has been reported he approached the editor of Hansard, the Official Report of the House of Commons, to ask if he would kindly drop the “Sir” in references to him. I trust the Hansard editor, a stickler for total accuracy, will ignore this request.

This hugely experienced Queen’s Counsel and human rights lawyer has been around long enough, I would have thought, to be aware that you cannot be Sir Keir one day and plain Joe Bloggs the next, whenever it suits you.

If he was so seriously worried about giving the impression he was something a bit superior to the common herd, why did he simply not reject the accolade at the time it was offered to him?