Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin is to lead a cross-Whitehall unit to prepare for Brexit ahead of the election of David Cameron’s replacement as prime minister.
Cameron told MPs yesterday that the EU unit would bring together officials and policy expertise from across the Cabinet Office, the Treasury, the Foreign Office and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
He said the Brexit negotiations would be the “most complex and most important task that the British civil service has undertaken in decades”, so the unit would report to the whole Cabinet on delivering the outcome of the referendum. This will include objectively exploring options for the UK’s future relationship with Europe and the rest of the world from outside the EU.
This will ensure the new prime minister, who is set to be chosen by 2 September, would have the best possible advice from the moment of their arrival, he told MPs.”
“According to official government documents from 1985, released in December 2014 under the 30 years rule, Letwin recommended the Prime Minister to “use Scotland as a trail-blazer for the pure residence charge”, i.e. the controversial Community Charge or ‘Poll tax’, having trialled it there first, and to implement it nationwide should “the exemplifications prove… it is feasible.”
Another 1985 internal memo released in December 2015 showed Letwin’s response to the Broadwater Farm riot, which blamed the violence on the “bad moral attitudes” of the predominantly Afro-Caribbean rioters, claiming that “lower-class, unemployed white people lived for years without a breakdown of public order on anything like the present scale”. It also criticised some of the schemes proposed to address inner-city problems, suggesting David Young’s proposed scheme to support black entrepreneurs would founder because the money would be spent on the “disco and drug trade”. Letwin later apologised, saying that parts of the memo had been “both badly worded and wrong.”
Letwin coauthored Britain’s biggest enterprise: ideas for radical reform of the NHS, a 1988 Centre for Policy Studies pamphlet written with John Redwood which advocated a closer relationship between the National Health Service and the private sector. This is regarded as providing a theoretical justification for NHS reforms carried out by subsequent governments, particularly the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
Letwin unsuccessfully stood against Diane Abbott at the 1987 election for Hackney North and Stoke Newington and against Glenda Jackson for the Hampstead and Highgate seat in the 1992 election.
He went on to win the historically safe Conservative seat of West Dorset at the 1997 general election, although he only achieved a majority of 1,840 votes over the next candidate. …
… May 2005, Letwin was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The Times reported that he had requested a role less onerous than his former treasury brief so that he would have time to pursue his career in the City. Until December 2009, he was a non-executive director of the merchant bank NM Rothschild Corporate Finance Ltd.
Following the decision by Michael Howard to stand down as Conservative Party leader after the 2005 election, Letwin publicly backed the youngest candidate and eventual winner David Cameron.
The Daily Telegraph reported in 2009 that Letwin agreed to repay a bill for £2,145 for replacing a leaking pipe under the tennis court at his constituency home in Dorset, which he had claimed on his parliamentary expenses.
Public Sector Reform
Speaking to consultancy firm KPMG on 27 July 2011, Letwin caused controversy after stating that you cannot have “innovation and excellence” without “real discipline and some fear on the part of the providers” in the public sector. This was widely reported, with The Guardian headline stating Letwin says ‘public sector workers need “discipline and fear”‘.
Government Document Disposal
In October 2011 the Daily Mirror reported a story that Letwin had thrown away more than 100 secret government documents in public bins in St. James’s Park, with no real care to dispose of them properly. Enquiries made by the Information Commissioner’s Office found that Letwin did not dispose of any government documents; they were in fact his constituents’ personal and confidential letters to him and did breach data protection rules. Letwin later apologised for his actions.
In 2003, The Independent reported comments Letwin had made saying that he would “go out on the streets and beg” rather than send his children to the state schools in Lambeth where he and his family lived.
After two strangers on his London street had asked if they could use his lavatory in 2002, and he agreed to let them do so, they then stole his credit cards and other belongings. He retrieved his credit cards after chasing the accomplices in his dressing gown and pyjamas.