Angry ministers axed in reshuffle speak out against coalition policies and people
FORMER ministers sacked in David Cameron’s latest frontbench reshuffle have launched a series of attacks on government policies and the political make-up of the coalition.
Liberal Democrat Nick Harvey said he had been “knocked for six” at losing his job as armed forces minister in the reshuffle and expressed fears over the review he was overseeing into the UK’s future nuclear deterrent.
There was also criticism of Mr Cameron from a former Conservative Cabinet minister, as sacked Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan accused him of having devoted too much attention to “time-wasting” Lib Dem constitutional reform.
Ms Gillan said: “We are spending an awful lot of time working to a Liberal Democrat agenda, which includes, as I see it, a lot of time-wasting on constitutional matters – AV, House of Lords reform.”
She also called for decisions on airport capacity – including the controversial possibility of a third runway at Heathrow – to be brought forward to before the next election and attacked the planned high-speed rail line from London to Birmingham.
Ms Gillan had threatened to resign from her post if the line, which would go through her Buckinghamshire constituency, was approved. She said it was “very destructive of the environment and not good value for money”.
Meanwhile, Mr Harvey joined wider criticism of Nick Clegg’s decision to swap ministerial posts at the Ministry Of Defence and Foreign Office for positions at International Development and Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Lib Dem David Laws will now have responsibility for the report into possible alternatives to renewing the Trident system – a major area of disagreement between the coalition parties.
But Mr Laws, brought back two years after being forced out by an expenses scandal, is also an education minister and has a wide-ranging Cabinet Office-based policy brief.
Mr Harvey said: “There are other issues coming up on the international agenda which Lib Dems are going to have to work very hard now without a minister either in Defence or the Foreign Office to keep abreast of.
“Getting the withdrawal from Afghanistan right is absolutely vital, and we don’t want to cut corners in order to save a few bob and then have the whole thing go horribly wrong.
“I think that having a Lib Dem in the two international departments would have given us a say in framing the agenda that we won’t now have.
“Of course the bigger decisions do come to the National Security Council and across Nick Clegg’s desk as Deputy Prime Minister, but to my mind it would have been better to have a foot in the Cabinet.”
Speaking about Mr Laws, Mr Harvey said: “He’s got an awful lot else he’s going to be doing.
“He is a very able man, he has got a very empirical mind, but I hope that that isn’t going to suffer from having somebody not actually on the case.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 17 C
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Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: West