As Andrew Mitchell begins to emerge from the shadows of the “plebgate” row, talk has turned to whether he could be brought back into the cabinet, or perhaps be given another plum government job.
The latest talk is that the former chief whip is one of two candidates (alongside Peter Lilley) under consideration to become the UK’s next EU commissioner when Cathy Ashton steps down next year.
Mitchell has not said anything in public about whether he would want to take the job. But his comment piece in this morning’s FT gives us some idea about what kind of agenda he would pursue if he was selected.
Sir Jeremy Heywood
Sir Jeremy Heywood, the government’s chief civil servant, was up in front of MPs on the Public Administration Select Committee this morning, talking about the Andrew Mitchell “plebgate” affair.
Heywood had been asked by the prime minister to look into the email trail behind the accusations that Mitchell had called a police officer a “pleb” – in particular at the testimony from someone purporting to be a member of the public who had witnessed the incident.
When reviewing these emails, Heywood looked at the CCTV footage from nearby cameras. These seemed to suggest Mitchell had not got angry with the officer in question, although was inconclusive whether he said the word “pleb” (he has always maintained he did not).
Andrew Mitchell, the new Tory chief whip
Lots of commentators are pointing out what a hard-line disciplinarian Andrew Mitchell is likely to make as the new Tory chief whip. Well I have two stories that add to that impression.
The first is Mitchell’s “bollocks” stamp, which, one civil servant tells me, he brandishes whenever he is given a document he doesn’t like. Mandarins more used to Labour’s more caring style when it came to international development were taken aback to find Mitchell regularly sending back briefing papers with that one word of feedback planted across it.
The other piece of Mitchell’s back story that people seem to forget is that he used to be a strong advocate of the death penalty. When I asked him about this in November last year, there was an extremely long pause before he said: