Tory civil war sparked by resignation – in quotes

Tory civil war sparked by resignation – in quotes
The Guardian, by Iain Duncan Smith


Pensions minister Ros Altmann accuses Iain Duncan Smith of ‘shocking’ behaviour but colleague has nothing but praise


Friday 9:30pm – Duncan Smith issues resignation, saying:


I have for some time and rather reluctantly come to believe that the latest changes to benefits to the disabled, and the context in which they’ve been made, are a compromise too far. While they are defensible in narrow terms, given the continuing deficit, they are not defensible in the way they were placed within a budget that benefits higher-earning taxpayers. They should have instead been part of a wider process to engage others in finding the best way to better focus resources on those most in need.


Friday 11:30pm – David Cameron issues his response:


I am puzzled and disappointed that you have chosen to resign.


Early on Sunday, Ros Altmann, the pensions minister, accuses her former boss of ‘shocking’ behaviour:


As far as I could tell, he appeared to spend much of the last few months plotting over Europe and against the leadership of the party and it seemed to me he had been planning to find a reason to resign for a long time.
I have found him exceptionally difficult to work for. It has been a hugely challenging time for me as he was preventing me from speaking to the public and has often been obstructive to my efforts to resolve important pension policy issues such as on women’s pensions.


Sunday 9.20am – Justin Tomlinson, disability minister in the same department as Altmann, hits back:


Iain always conducted himself in a professional, dedicated and determined manner. He actively encouraged ministers and teams to engage, challenge and develop ideas. We were to be ourselves, our judgment backed as we worked as a team both for DWP and the government.



On the government’s austerity programme


They [the government] are losing sight of the direction of travel they should be in. It is in danger of drifting in a direction that divides society rather than unites it.


On the scale and impact of the cuts to disability benefits, combined with tax breaks for higher earners


Juxtaposed as it came through in the Budget, that is deeply unfair and was perceived to be unfair. And that unfairness is damaging to the government, it’s damaging to the party and it’s actually damaging to the public.


On tensions in the cabinet and the top-down approach


There needs to be a greater, collegiate sense on how decisions are made. This is not the way to do government.


On Osborne’s entire deficit reduction strategy, cutting benefits for working-age people while protecting those for pensioners


The truth is yes we need to get the deficit down but we need to make sure we widen the scope of where we look to get that deficit down and not just narrow it down on working age benefits
Because otherwise it just looks like we see this as a pot of money, that it doesn’t matter because they don’t vote for us.


On talk of an attempted coup on Downing Street


This is not personal … I have no personal ambitions. If I never go back into government again, I will not cry about that. I came into this government because I cared about welfare reform.


On the success of Cameron and Osborne


I am concerned that this government that I want to succeed is not actually able to do the kind of things that it should because it has become too focused on narrowly getting the deficit down without being able to say where that should fall other than simply on those who I think progressively can less afford to have that fall on them.
I am resigning because I want my government to think again about this and get back to that position that I believe, which is about being a One Nation [party].


On allegations that his resignation is about Brexit


This is not some secondary attempt to attack the Prime Minister or about Europe. It is nothing to do with that at all – if I wanted to do that I would have been clear. I have never, ever hidden my views about something and I’m not doing it now. I am genuinely, genuinely concerned.


Amber Rudd, secretary of state for energy and climate change, speaks on Sky News’ Murnaghan about IDS’ resignation:


I don’t really understand it, I am perplexed but I have sat at cabinet with him every week, and then to launch this bombshell at the rest of us, it is difficult to understand and is really disappointing.


Sunday 10:15am – Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin, a key ally of IDS and fellow Eurosceptic, tells Sky News:


Frankly, for the government to say, ‘oh, we’re so perplexed, we don’t know why he resigned … They are deliberately trying to fog the atmosphere.


Jenkin said it was “deeply insincere” and the key point was how revealing the row had been about the way Downing Street operates.


They have taken the same playbook as Brown and Blair. Everything is dictated from the top for short-term political advantage. This cannot go on.
We need to reset how Whitehall operates. The prime minister is supposed to be primus inter pares [first among equals], not a dictator. The chancellor should not control individual departments. And Iain is not the only minister who has got hugely frustrated.


Sunday 10.30am – Priti Patel, also in the DWP, says:


Iain has spoken very passionately today, with great conviction and dignity in terms of making his case.


Sunday 10:30am – Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee, the influential Conservative backbenchers’ group, is up next on Pienaar’s Politics:


The worst thing you can do is impune somebody else’s motives for what they are doing and what they are saying. We are all involved in this because we have strong beliefs and are passionate about our country.
I would caution colleagues and senior advisers in government just to reflect on the damage that can be done.


Ken Clarke is speaking on BBC News. Everyone needs to chill out, he suggests


This is what happens when you have an EU referendum at the same time.
My advice is for everyone to calm down and try to get back to the issues. We do have serious financial crisis which we’re still emerging from.


Downing Street tries to calm things down
Following his interviews, Downing Street, issued the following statement:


We are sorry to see Iain Duncan Smith go, but we are a One Nation government determined to continue helping everyone in our society have more security and opportunity, including the most disadvantaged.
That means we will deliver our Manifesto commitments to make the welfare system fairer, cut taxes and ensure we have a stable economy by controlling welfare spending and living within our means.
Under this government there are over two million more people with the security of a job and a pay packet, almost half a million fewer children growing up in a home where nobody works and over a million fewer people trapped on out-of-work benefits.
But there is more to do. That’s why we will stick to our plan so we finish the job of delivering stability, security and opportunity for working people in our country.