Chris Grayling is facing calls to resign as transport secretary following a leaked letter which showed he was against the devolution of the railways to keep them “out of the clutches” of Labour.
Grayling has rejected London mayor Sadiq Khan’s bid to have Transport for London take over commuter routes that connect the capital. The cabinet minister said this was on cost grounds.
However a letter obtained by the Evening Standard reveals Grayling told Boris Johnson, when he was London mayor in 2013, that he wanted to prevent the railways falling under Labour’s control.
Tory MP Bob Neil, a former vice-chair of the Conservative Party, said today Grayling was wrong to oppose devolution of services for a “party political” reason.
“It is quite clear now that as far ago as 2013 he was asserting he would oppose any devolution of rail franchises in London to a Labour mayor,” he told BBC Two’s Daily Politics.
Grayling has yet to comment on the letter, in which he told Johnson: “While I am generally a great supporter of what you are doing in London, I would not be in favour of changing the current arrangements.
“Not because I have any fears over the immediate future, but because I would like to keep suburban rail services out of the clutches of any future Labour mayor”.
Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, stopped short of calling for Grayling to quit but said the transport secretary was in “serious hot water”.
“This is a disgraceful revelation that shows the Tories put party politics before rail passengers and it will leave commuters worse off,” he said.
“Labour’s Mayor of London put forward a plan which would see commuters enjoy a better service and frozen fares. We now see the Tories have blocked this progress for their own narrow political interest. It’s shameful and demonstrates that for all their bluster about caring about working people they always put themselves first.
He added: “It’s no wonder even Tory MPs are today calling for Chris Grayling to resign: he’s in serious hot water.”