Andy Richardson: 'Incompetence has been the story of Government through 2020'

Dominic Raab has used the Good Friday Agreement as a reference tool. He hasn’t, however, read it.

Dominic Raab
Dominic Raab

OK, stop laughing. As former Brexit Secretary charged with making sure the backstop was in place, you might have thought he’d have read what he describes as a “vital constitutional document”. But, erm, no. Delved in to the important bits, not the rest. Oh yes, and he’s part of the Government that’s broken international law, too. Fun times. We should add that the Good Friday Agreement is only 35 pages, which is about half the length of a newspaper. And it’s on smaller paper.

Funnily enough, Super Dom is used to being caught off guard. Boris’s Number Two memorably told us he “hadn’t quite understood” how reliant UK trade in goods was on the Dover-Calais crossing. At the time, Conservative MP Nicky Morgan tweeted: “Gulp.” On his comments regarding not reading the Good Friday Agreement, we might all Tweet: “Help.” Or, as Joe Biden, the possible next US President might say: A UK-USA trade deal isn’t happening, unless you wise up and play by the rules.

Not paying attention to detail and sliding into incompetence has been the story of the Government through 2020. Take test and trace. And then there’s Operation Moonshot, last seen heading into orbit somewhere around Jupiter.

The Government’s comms strategy seems to be to wish away errors by making grander promises. BoJo and Matt Hancock tell us not to worry, then invent a little policy on the spot that they have no hope of achieving.

So if a week proves too long, don’t worry, they’ll get it done in the next 10 minutes. If 100,000 tests proves out of reach, don’t worry, they’ll commission 500,000.

The only trouble is, they never do. They create headlines to get off the hook – only to land them on an even bigger hook when they let us down weeks or months later, by failing to meet their latest, hyperbolic target.

Still, those in Manchester are sorting things themselves.

A man was photographed on a bus earlier this week – wearing a live snake around his face and neck instead of a face mask. The local transport authority drily commented that the snake was unacceptable as a face covering. They sensibly haven’t commented on ministers who don’t read their documents.

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