Sketch: We were all rooting for him: go on, Andrew, blow your top

This parliamentary committee angered Andrew Mitchell - but he kept a lid on it

Share
Related Topics

Andrew Mitchell was back. In his first Commons speaking role since his short-lived appointment to the job of Chief Whip – a period when quite a lot happened to him, like briefly becoming the most notorious cyclist in the Western world after Lance Armstrong – he was finally up before the beaks.

Well not exactly. He had been invited by the International Development committee to talk about the decision, on his last day as Secretary of State, to grant Rwanda's government £16m in budget support despite complaints that it was backing a murderous group of rebels in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This promised a rare, real-time glimpse of Mitchell dealing with the authorities, if that's not too fanciful a description of yesterday's exercise in parliamentary accountability. And which of us there can say we did not secretly fantasise that Mitchell would suddenly lose it and at least blurt out to the committee, in recognition of its support for Britain's aid programme but in vexation at its persistent questioning, what he has admitted he told the police that evening: “I thought you guys were supposed to f***ing help us”?

In that respect he disappointed. He had the highest respect for the committee, he assured it. But beneath his polite exterior he was clearly cross about suggestions that he had rushed through a decision to sock Rwanda half the cash due to it while two apparently more fastidious donor countries, Germany and the Netherlands, had refused to do so. It had been a “profoundly consultative” decision, he said, with the Foreign Office and No 10 fully “in the loop”. And so far from being “out on a limb”, Britain was actually in the “middle of the pack” by granting the first tranche of cash, since the US and the EU had continued to disburse aid.

But there was a wrinkle that the session failed to iron out, despite strenuous efforts by Labour's Richard Burden to do so. A 31 August letter that Mitchell sent to David Cameron said: “Reporting shows that practical support for the [DRC rebel group] M23 has now ended.” Yet Mitchell seemed far from sure – despite repeated UN and NGO claims to the contrary – that there had been any such support.

This was somehow reminiscent of the old mid- 20th century argument between those eminent philosophers Bertrand Russell and Peter Strawson about the statement “The King of France is bald”. If there is no King of France, Russell said, then the proposition is untrue. No, Strawson said, it isn't untrue – just meaningless.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor’s Letter: The Sussex teenager killed fighting in Syria

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Actor Zac Efron  

Keep your shirt on Zac – we'd all be better for it

Howard Jacobson
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit