Theresa May backs 'reverse Midas touch' Chris Grayling despite probation U-turn
Theresa May has given her full support to Chris Grayling, despite mounting criticism of his disaster-strewn ministerial career.
The Prime Minister was forced to insist she has "full confidence" in her Cabinet colleague after the Government ditched his controversial reforms to probation services.
Justice Secretary David Gauke announced that he was renationalising the system after Mr Grayling's part-privatisation turned out to be an expensive flop.
The U-turn comes hard on the heels of other government gaffes which have been laid at the Transport Secretary's door.
Mr Grayling - who ran Mrs May's Tory leadership campaign - was left red-faced when his department awarded a contract for ferry services in the event of a no-deal Brexit to a company with no boats.
The Department for Transport also had to pay out £33m to Eurotunnel after the company claimed it had handed out no-deal ferry contracts in a "distortionary and anti-competitive way".
Asked whether the Prime Minister retained full confidence in Mr Grayling, her spokesman said: "The answer to that is yes.
"More broadly on the probation reforms we’ve set out today, we’re very clear that probation services must improve. The reforms bring the right balance of expertise from the public, private and voluntary sectors to help rehabilitate offenders, cut crime and protect the public.
“They build on the successful elements of the current system, which has seen an extra 40,000 offenders being supervised each year.”
When pressed on reports that the cost to the taxpayer of overturning his probation reforms was half a billion pounds, the spokesman said: “This isn’t about money or individuals.”
Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA union, said: "Failing Grayling has yet again shown he has the Midas touch in reverse. His foolhardy decision to outsource justice has cost the taxpayer a fortune.
"It’s also part of a pattern with Grayling and this economically illiterate Conservative government. While trumpeting their austerity agenda they push privatisation and the net result is always poorer services and blighted lives.
"What this decision shows is that everything Grayling touches – like his gross mismanagement of the railways - ends up not as gold but something smelly on the sole of your shoe."