UK Government ‘coming apart’ says Welsh Labour MP after Michael Gove says it is ‘simply not functioning’
A Welsh Labour MP has said that the UK Government is “coming apart at the seams” after former levelling up minister Michael Gove admitted that it was “simply not functioning”.
Michael Gove who was sacked as levelling up secretary by Boris Johnson earlier this month, made the surprise admission at a Policy Exchange event.
The UK Government was failing to deliver “certain essential functions” and some services were “simply at the moment not functioning”, he said.
He pointed to delays in producing the essential documents at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and the Passport Office as examples.
Torfaen MP Nick Thomas-Symonds said that Michael Gove’s comments chimed with what he was seeing in his constituency.
“This is exactly what we are seeing in Torfaen,” he said. “People’s travel plans in chaos – feeling like their summer holidays will be ruined – by the Conservatives making a complete mess of such a basic service.
“It’s a sure sign of a Government coming apart at the seams,” he said.
Michael Gove however said that the problems weren’t altogether the fault of ministers and that there were big problems with how the UK Government functioned.
“There are some core functions, giving you your passport, giving your driving licence, which is simply at the moment not functioning,” he said.
He also raised “bureaucratic impediments” on broader issues such as defence procurement.
“We are no longer providing people, either with the efficient delivery of services or the effective focus on what the state should do,” he said.
“I think that’s because we have become a Government and an administration that is knocked off course by powerful stories that are told by people with a mission – and our own sense of mission has not been strong enough to resist that.”
After more than 12 years in Government, some critics have blamed the Conservatives for the problems but Lord Frost, the former Brexit minister, sought to apportion some blame to civil servants.
“We’re always told that we have a Rolls-Royce and the problem is that ministers don’t make their will clear,” he told the discussion.
“Well, ministers made their will clear about coming back into the office several months ago and yet it is still not happening. So I believe there is something very fundamentally wrong in the way the Civil Service and the state is working.”
But Baroness Cavendish, a former director of No 10’s policy unit, was angered by his remarks, instead criticising ministers.
“There are people on this panel who have been in government for the past few years and under you guys this stuff has fallen apart – so why haven’t you done anything about it?” she said.
The Passport Office has previously blamed its backlog on more than five million people delaying their applications because of the coronavirus pandemic.
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