Axed Mundell: “I was willing to compromise and work with Boris Johnson”

David Mundell was axed from his Scottish Secretary post by new Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday.
David Mundell was axed from his Scottish Secretary post by new Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday.

Borders MP David Mundell has talked of his disappointment after he was sacked yesterday from his Secretary of State for Scotand post by new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who replaced him with Dumfries and Galloway MP Alister Jack.

His chances of keeping his seat in the Scotland Office were slim, giving his open criticism of Johnson in the past few months, and with Johnson’s desire for a full reshuffle.

The 57-year-old stated he was disappointed, but not surprised, to be leaving the Scotland Office after nine years.

He said: “As I stated to the Prime Minister, I will hold him to account on his commitments to the Union.

“I had a perfectly amicable conversation with Mr Johnson in which he made clear that he wanted to mould his own cabinet with his own people. I respect that.”

Mr Mundell had previously been reported as saying that he would find it “extremely difficult” to work under Mr Johnson, but when he was later questioned on this he backtracked, and – unlike former chancellor Philip Hammond and several other high-profile members of Theresa May’s cabinet – he refused to resign.

Referring to speculation that ministers in a Johnson cabinet were being asked to sign a commitment to support, if needed, a no-deal Brexit, Mr Mundell said: “There was no request to sign anything, but I did tell him that I see my job as an MP to hold him to account on his commitments to the Union.

“Yes, I was willing to compromise and work with him despite my well-documented differences with him in the past.

“I don’t think compromise is a dirty word despite the inevitable criticism from the usual suspects. If we had had more compromise and less politicking on Brexit, it would have been resolved by now.

“Obviously I am disappointed to be leaving the Scotland Office, but I am sure Alister Jack will make an excellent Secretary of State and he has my full support.”

Mr Jack’s appointment was a bit of a surprise in itself, as Aberdeen South MP Ross Thomson, a Johnson supporter and Brexiteer, was seen as favourite by many.

He said he felt honoured to have been asked to take on the role at such an crucial time for the country, and that he hoped to build on the work carried out by his friend and neighbouring constituency MP.

He told us: “I’ve no illusions about the challenges ahead but I aim to bring a clear Scottish perspective to cabinet and elsewhere as we strive to deliver the genuine opportunities a well-managed Brexit can offer.

“At the heart of my new role will be ensuring the advantages of the union are fully understood while engaging with colleagues at Holyrood to help Scotland develop and flourish within a strong United Kingdom.”

Mr Mundell has been the MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale in Scotland for 14 years, and was appointed to the cabinet as Scottish Secretary by David Cameron.

Mr Johnson has opted for a wholesale reshuffle, bringing in Sajid Javid as chancellor and Priti Patel as home secretary, while more than half the previous cabinet, including leadership rival Jeremy Hunt, have quit or been sacked.

Meanwhile, the Borders’ other Tory MP John Lamont, who openly supported Mr Hunt, Mr Johnson’s opponent, in the recent leadership campaign, spoke of his disappointment at the result, but said it was time for his party to unite to deliver Brexit.

He too, like Mr Mundell, hopes the new PM will put keeping the United Kingdom united at the forefront of his agenda.

The member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk said: “While I am disappointed that Jeremy Hunt has not received sufficient backing, now is the time for the Conservative Party to come together and to deliver Brexit.

“We need to respect the result of the 2016 referendum so that we can move on as a country. As a party we also need to unite to prevent Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister and oppose Nicola Sturgeon and her obsession with breaking up Britain.

“On Brexit, the EU now needs to recognise that significant changes are required to enable a deal to get through Parliament and that our Prime Minister is serious about no deal being the alternative.

“I am pleased that it has been such a positive campaign and that both candidates have spoken so much about the importance of strengthening our United Kingdom. I cannot recall a leadership campaign where Scotland and Scottish issues have featured so highly and that has been good to see.

“After this campaign, I am sure Boris Johnson will put the future of the United Kingdom at the very heart of his premiership.”