Lord Adonis calls for Chris Grayling to quit over rail firms 'bailout'

Posted On: 
31st December 2017

Lord Adonis has called for Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to quit as he stepped up his attacks on the Government approach to Brexit.

Lord Adonis dramatically quit as a government advisor on Friday
Credit: 
PA Images

The Labour peer - who quit as chair of the National Infrastructure Committee with a blast at the way Theresa May was handling Brexit - accused Mr Grayling of handing a taxpayer “bailout” to private rail firms.

Ministers announced last month they would be intervening on the East Coast rail franchise and terminating the contract held by Stagecoach and Virgin years ahead of schedule.

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Lord Adonis said handing out a multi-million pound cheque to the firms was unacceptable amid an apparent “Brexit squeeze” coupled with soaring rail fares.

“The cost of this bailout is going to be a slashing of the national infrastructure programme and even bigger fare rises,” he told the Observer.

“And as that becomes apparent in parliament and in the media I think Chris Grayling’s position is going to become untenable.

“It is of a piece with him being a radical Brexiter to whom everything is subordinate to hard-right ideology.”

He added: “I think he is going to have to go because, as he is forced to defend a massive bailout to the private sector.”

The Department for Transport said it was “unacceptable” for the peer to make “misleading” statements and denied there was any bailout to the rail firms.

'SILENCED'

Yesterday Lord Adonis said he was forced to dramatically quit as a government advisor on Friday because ministers had “tried to silence” him in his criticisms.

 He told the Observer: “Good government has essentially broken down in the face of Brexit. Normal standards of conduct are not being observed.

"Independent advice is being dismissed because remember experts were supposedly part of the problem.

"All the experts in Whitehall are trying to square the circle of leaving the EU, the single market, the customs union without undermining British trade and British jobs.

"And, since that is an impossibility, even the best minds in Whitehall are not able to do that."

BUSINESS BLAST AT BREXIT

Meanwhile, business group the British Chambers of Commerce attacked UK political leaders for their “division and disorganisation” on Brexit.

Its director general Adam Marshall told the Observer: “Businesses have been very patient in waiting for clarity on Brexit in the 18 months since the referendum.

"That patience is now wearing thin. Businesses want answers, they want clarity and they want results.”