Leader comment: UK may pay price of Damian Green’s porn folly

Damian Green insists he did not watch porn on his parliamentary computer (Picture: PA)
Damian Green insists he did not watch porn on his parliamentary computer (Picture: PA)
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We are living in one of the most important times in the history of the United Kingdom. Decisions are being made that could have serious and long-lasting effects on this country. And our Government seems to be permanently on the brink of collapse.

The sacking of Damian Green from his position as First Secretary of State removes an adroit fixer who looked after the day-to-day issues of Government, while the Prime Minister sought to stay in office for long enough to cut a reasonable divorce deal with the EU. In these stormy days of Brexit, Mr Green was said to have been a calming influence on sometimes volatile Ministers. There is no question he had to go. Any schoolchild knows when in trouble, honesty is the best policy.

READ MORE: Police who leaked Damian Green porn details could face prosecution

But, in the words of Cabinet colleague Jeremy Hunt, Mr Green “lied” about what he knew of police claims to have found porn on his office computer in 2008. Mr Green admits he made “misleading and inaccurate” statements to the media in a breach of the ministerial code, although he continues to deny viewing pornography on his parliamentary computers. A Cabinet Office inquiry also found Tory activist Kate Maltby’s account of private meetings with Mr Green – in which she alleges he touched her knee and “made it clear he was sexually interested” while offering career advice – to be “plausible”.

Ms May now has a decision to make. Carry on without a deputy or appoint a new one. If she chooses the former, the business of Government seems likely to become even more chaotic. If she chooses the latter, the appointment will be scrutinised by the two main camps in her own party – as happened when Priti Patel was replaced by Penny Mordaunt as International Development Secretary. One of Ms Mordaunt’s qualities was that as a Brexiteer she maintained the Cabinet’s uneasy balance on the issue.

READ MORE: Damian Green sacked by Theresa May over pornography claims

If a Brexiteer replaces Mr Green, we will know that balance has shifted. The likes of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove will be emboldened to press for an overly optimistic deal that the EU will not allow, which is likely to result only in the UK plunging over the “cliff-edge” of a no-deal Brexit. If a Remainer takes over, the Brexiteers may become anxious that things are not going their way and fragile Tory unity will be further strained just at the time when a “strong and stable” Government is most needed.