8 times Rishi Sunak’s government definitely led with ‘integrity, professionalism and accountability'

8 times Rishi Sunak’s government definitely led with ‘integrity, professionalism and accountability'

Related video: Sunak under pressure over Gavin Williamson and Suella Braverman cabinet appointments


It was just over two weeks ago that Rishi Sunak became prime minister, and promised the country his government would have “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level” in his first speech outside Downing Street.

The remarks came after his predecessor Liz Truss only lasted 45 days in office following a disastrous mini-budget which crashed the pound, and her predecessor Boris Johnson quit after mass resignations from his government.

We wanted to believe a Tory prime minister might actually deliver on their promises – seeing as Ms Truss’ attempts at delivery were about as fruitful as disorientated postman – but of course that didn’t happen.

On Tuesday, Mr Sunak was hit with his first ministerial resignation in the form of Sir Gavin Williamson, amid allegations of bullying. Yet a day later, he repeated his first remarks made last month.

“I obviously regret appointing someone who has had to resign in these circumstances, but I think what the British people would like to know, is that when situations like this arise, that they will be dealt with properly.

“And that’s why it’s absolutely right that he resigned, and it’s why it’s absolutely right that there is an investigation to look into these matters properly.

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“I said my government would be characterised by integrity, professionalism and accountability – and it will,” Mr Sunak said, in his second Prime Minister’s Questions.

Except in the past two weeks, it hasn’t, and we’ve rounded eight of them up for your reading (dis)pleasure…

1. Gavin Williamson

Let’s start with the latest headache facing Mr Sunak: that a Cabinet Office minister - one without a portfolio – resigned after facing allegations of bullying and sending abusive text messages.

In WhatsApp messages littered with expletives, Sir Gavin told then chief whip Wendy Morton it was “very poor” he hadn’t been invited to the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, that she was “showing f*** all interest in pulling things together” and “you f*** us all over”.

Meanwhile The Guardian reported claims by a senior civil servant that Sir Gavin – then defence secretary – told them to “slit your throat” and on another, separate occasion, to “jump out of the window”.

The ex-education secretary stepped down on Tuesday night, with a letter to Mr Sunak stating: “As you know, there is an ongoing complaints process concerning text messages I sent to a colleague. I am complying with this process and have apologised to the recipient for these messages.

“Since then, there have been other allegations made about my past conduct. I refute the characterisations of these claims, but I recognise these are becoming a distraction for the good work this government is doing for the British people.

“I have therefore decided to step back from government so that I can comply fully with the complaints process that is underway and clear my name of any wrongdoing.”

So much for integrity then.

2. Suella Braverman

The Fareham MP is still home secretary, despite resigning from the role under Liz Truss’ government after sending an official document from a personal email address.

In her letter to Ms Truss, Ms Braverman – who has gained the nickname ‘Leaky Sue’ - wrote: “This constitutes a technical breach of the rules. As you know, the document was a draft written ministerial statement about migration, due for publication immediately. Much of it had already been briefed to MPs. Nevertheless, it is right for me to go.

“As soon as I realised my mistake, I rapidly reported this on official channels, and informed the cabinet secretary. As home secretary I hold myself to the highest standard and my resignation is the right thing to do.

“The business of government relies upon people accepting responsibility for their mistakes. Pretending we haven’t made mistakes, carrying on as if everyone can’t see that we have made them, and hoping that things will magically come right is not serious politics.

“I have made a mistake; I accept responsibility; I resign.”

That was on 19 October. No more than a week later, on 25 October, she was back in post in one of the four great offices of state.

Despite Ms Braverman reportedly having to have security lessons from Actual MI5, Mr Sunak has defended the re-appointment, telling MPs in the Commons: “The home secretary made an error of judgement but she recognised that, she raised the matter and she accepted her mistake.

“That is why I was delighted to welcome her back into a united cabinet that brings experience and stability to the heart of government.”

She has also come under fire over conditions at a holding facility for asylum seekers in Manston, Kent, where there have been reports of outbreaks of diptheria, scabies and MRSA.

Ms Braverman had blocked transfers from the centre to hotels while serving under Ms Truss.

3. A Home Office minister claiming migrants have “cheek” to complain about the conditions at Manston

Yet it isn’t just Ms Braverman who has been treating migrants appallingly, as crime, policing and fire minister Chris Philp told Times Radio: “If people choose to enter a country illegally, and unnecessarily, it is a bit… y’know, it’s a bit of a cheek to then start complaining about the conditions.

“You’ve illegally entered a country without necessity.”


4. Defra minister being accused of “ignorance” after suggesting “some little man in China” is listening to his phone conversations

After food minister Mark Spencer was quizzed by Sky News about reports former prime minister Liz Truss had had her personal phone hacked by suspected Russian agents, he replied: “We all talk on personal phones, don’t we, you know?”

Not exactly the most reassuring of answers, but what followed next saw Mr Spencer face strong criticism online.

“I ring my wife. Maybe there’s some little man in China listening to the conversations between me and my wife.

“But, you know, you’ve just got to be careful about what information you use on which phone and you get a lot of help and support from the security services on that,” he said.

A shame the government minister hasn’t received help and support as to why that isn’t exactly the most professional thing to say, though…

5. Mr Sunak’s Cop-out

If his first resignation wasn’t bad enough, Mr Sunak has already made his first embarrassing U-turn as well.

No 10 had previously said the PM opted not to go “due to other pressing domestic commitments”, then the decision was “under review”, before the former chancellor tweeted he was going after all last Wednesday.

He said: “There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change. There is no energy security without investing in renewables.

“That is why I will attend Cop27 next week: to deliver on Glasgow’s legacy of building a secure and sustainable future.”

6. Attacking trans rights

The Telegraphreports that Mr Sunak wants to review the Equality Act “to make it clear that sex means biological sex rather than gender”, to restrict participation in women’s sport and maintain single-sex changing rooms and women’s refuges.

The outlet also states that the proposed changes would also state that an individual self-identifying their gender “does not have legal force” so “transgender women have no legal right to access women-only facilities”.

The Equality Act currently states that an individual has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if they are “proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex”.

Meanwhile under the protected characteristic of sex, it states this refers to “a man or to a woman”.

Reassuringly, despite the prime minister seemingly floating the idea of reform to equality law, The Good Law Project’s Jo Maugham tweeted that while “legally, there is nothing to stop the Tories from changing the Equality Act”, he does not think the Equality Act “will go”.

This obviously doesn’t make the targeting of trans people any less despicable, though.

7. The PM getting shut down by a 77-year-old

God bless Catherine Poole who, when approached by Rishi Sunak during his visit to Croydon University Hospital, called on the PM to pay nurses more.

“We are trying,” Mr Sunak replied, but Ms Poole wasn’t having any of it.

“No, you’re not trying. You need to try harder,” she said.

Nodding, Mr Sunak added: “I will take that away,”

Let’s hope that hospital had a burns unit.

8. Being forced to confirm that a promotional video did not feature the music of a convicted paedophile

Yes, Mr Sunak’s official spokesperson had to tell a room full of journalists that the prime minister’s video did not feature music from sex offender Gary Glitter – specifically his song Rock & Roll Part 2 – amid speculation that the drum beat of the instrumental sounded similar.

A Downing Street spokesperson told indy100 that the PM’s deputy spokesperson confirmed the music used was, in fact, stock music.

All of this, and it’s only been two weeks...

God help us.

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