July 02, 2019
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called for a “speedy and thorough” independent inquiry into claims from senior civil servants that he is “too frail” to tend to the duties of prime minister.
In a letter to cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill, Corbyn wrote that the issue had “undermined confidence in the principle of civil service neutrality.”
According to a report from The Times, two senior civil servants told them that the 70-year old Corbyn may have to step down from his position as Labour leader due to health issues.
In response, the Labour Party called the comments as a “scurrilous” attempt to undermine the party’s interests.
On Monday, Sedwill wrote back to Corbyn, saying that he was concerned about the articles and promised to investigate the issue.
In response, Corbyn thanked the cabinet secretary for his “assurances” that he was “concerned by the articles.”
Corbyn wrote,” As Jon Trickett, the shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, laid out in his letter at the weekend, such discussions, based on false assumptions, should not be taking place, nor shared with a newspaper.”
“This matter has inevitably undermined confidence in the principle of civil service neutrality, which is integral to the healthy functioning of our democracy,” Corbyn continued. “This was made clear by Jon Trickett today in parliament and endorsed by the speaker of the House of Commons.”
“For there to be trust in any investigation, there need to be assurances on its scope and independence. In the light of this, I would urge you to ensure that there is a speedy and thorough independent investigation, rather than one carried out by the Cabinet Office.”
Addressing the House of Commons on Monday, Trickett said that Corbyn’s fitness was “legendary” and criticized the “undemocratic and unconstitutional intervention” act that the senior civil servants committed by sharing such claims to the Times.
An official spokesperson for Downing Street said, “Impartiality is one of the fundamental values of the civil service and underpins its ability to effectively serve the government of the day.”
“It would clearly be inappropriate and unacceptable for comments of this sort to have been made or briefed to the press,” the spokesperson continued. “The cabinet secretary will be writing to the leader of the opposition shortly.”
– MK. II