Nick Herbert’s departure deprives the government of one of its most innovative thinkers. Herbert, who had been double hatting between the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice, was the minister who pushed through crime maps and elected Police and Crime Commissioner.
He departs, as Steve Hilton did, in frustration at a lack of support for radicalism. One friend of his points out that Number 10 and CCHQ have done ‘close to f all’ to help on Police and Crime Commissioners with the result that the Conservatives have been left with a set of underwhelming candidates. It also didn’t help that Herbert, as Pauline Neville Jones did, had an extremely tense relationship with Theresa May.
Herbert will not be a disloyal voice on the backbenches. But he is a profound Eurosceptic, one of the founders of Business for Sterling and the first minister to say that a referendum on Britain’s relationship with the EU will be necessary in the near future. Expect to hear Herbert say more about this and the need to reform or leave the European Court of Human Rights in the coming months.
As the co-founder of the Refrom think tank, I’d also expect Herbert to speak up on public service reform and the need to transform the state. Herbert has chafed at the constraints of office. Freed from them, he’ll fast establish himself as one of the most innovative, reformist voices in the Tory party.