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01.02.19

‘I’m a lightning rod’: Grayling dismisses criticism from rail unions and ‘anti-Brexit brigade’

Chris Grayling has said he believes he is subject to personal criticism and “missiles fired” based on major decisions he makes because of unions such as the RMT and because he is “lightning rod for the anti-Brexit brigade.”

The heavily-scrutinised transport secretary has come under fire in recent months for delays, timetable chaos and for the blighted progress of several major rail projects.

In an interview with parliament’s The House Magazine, Grayling dismissed the criticism and said he believes he has made the right calls in an attempt to modernise the railway.

“There are people like the RMT union who have been trying to get me to resign for the last nine months,” he commented.

“This is a trade union that regards Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party as too right-wing to affiliate to and wants to stand in the way of modernisation of the railways.

“Inevitably, from an organised left-wing trade union, you’re going to get some missiles fired. But I’m going to do what I think is right.”

MPs and members of the public have called for Grayling to be sacked in the past, notably following the weeks of delays and cancellations experienced in May as well as the government’s handling of the East Coast Main Line rail franchise.

Major projects are also currently under heavy scrutiny, with Crossrail in London delayed several times and requiring multiple bail-outs and HS2 facing some calls to be scrapped altogether, although Grayling stated last week that the he would not “betray” the Midlands and the northern regions and will deliver it in full.

Grayling blamed the popularity of some of his more controversial decisions on “people who want to have a go because I’m pro-Brexit,” calling himself a lightning rod for criticism due to his political stance and his place in the cabinet.

He continued: “But this is politics. I’m not afraid of making big and sometimes unpopular calls if they’re the right thing to do. And I believe in Britain and that we can make a success of ourselves as a country outside the EU.”

The transport secretary has also been criticised for the DfT’s preparation for Brexit, during which Grayling handed out a £14m contract to ferry company despite it having no ferries, but he insisted “I’m interested in doing the right thing. I’m not interested in playing for press coverage.”

His comments have however been criticised by some, with MP David Lammy calling his leadership “woeful” and several journalists and tweeters also critiquing Grayling beyond his Brexit beliefs.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Lightning never strikes twice, unlike the rail workers let down again and again by your woeful leadership. <a href="https://t.co/P7OinTk5rb">https://t.co/P7OinTk5rb</a></p>&mdash; David Lammy (@DavidLammy) <a

Image credit -  Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images

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