Wednesday 23 January 2019
Mark Francois is clearly incapable of understanding that civil servants can act impartially, regardless of their personal views, because he is incapable of such action himself. Civil servants only act under political authority: they advise but ministers decide. If Francois has a problem with the Government’s deal on Brexit then his ire should be directed at ministers, not those who have loyally served them.
His latest comments, however, go well beyond what is acceptable political discourse. At a time when public servants are receiving death threats, he cannot hide behind a metaphorical flourish when he is accusing civil servants of being traitors to our country. So whilst he may hope that any response to his incendiary comments will be very 'British', the reality for those who have dedicated their lives to serving governments of every colour is that they are being targeted and threatened.
Francois puffs out his chest proclaiming his British patriotic values. He then seeks to undermine one of the country’s greatest institutions — an impartial civil service — and knowingly uses language that could result in public servants fearing for their lives. Those are not the British values that I recognise.
Dave Penman is the General Secretary of the FDA.