If Theresa May wants to have a public row with Sajid Javid, the Culture Secretary doesn’t seem particularly keen on continuing it. He tried his best to avoid jumping into a war of words with the Home Secretary, whose leaked correspondence warning that his plan to make mobile phone companies fill in ‘not-spots’ (areas with no coverage) could make it more difficult for intelligence agencies to thwart terrorist attacks are splashed over the front of the Times.
‘The Home Secretary, like every other member of the Government, fully supports this strategy that we’re setting out today. Well, the reason this is a consultation is because this stage we want to look carefully at each solution.’
If this leak has come from May, it is a rather extreme way of taking out a rival when the leadership contest hasn’t even begun. Those letters – Javid simply said ‘I would have lots of people write to me about each one of these options and I wouldn’t get into any one of them’ – are the sort of things you leak against your Coalition rivals when they are being particularly intractable, not someone who, like you, is tipped to one day take the Tory leadership.
Of course, May is also a cautious Home Secretary who is wary of anything going wrong on her watch, and so the appearance of this letter may have been the best way for her to get concerns about tracking terrorists taken seriously. Perhaps she felt they weren’t. But it does suggest that her reputation for caution only extends so far as making sure there aren’t any problems coming down the line, rather than preventing fights blowing up between senior members of her own party. This is the second blue-on-blue row involving May to appear on the front page of the Times. The message seems to be ignore the Home Secretary at your peril.