Philip barton

Mandarins humiliated at Foreign Affairs Committee

The shadow of Afghanistan darkened Westminster again this afternoon as the Foreign Affairs Committee gathered to discuss the farce of Operation Ark. Two of Whitehall’s top mandarins – Sir Philip Barton, the Foreign Office’s permanent secretary, and Nigel Casey, the PM’s special representative for Afghanistan – were hauled up before the panel of MPs.  It came after whistleblowers Raphael Marshall and Josie Stewart released evidence which suggested that Boris Johnson personally authorised the evacuation of Pen Farthing’s Nowzad animal sanctuary. Given the recent revelations, Mr S was expecting fireworks and this afternoon didn’t disappoint. For, after today’s appearance, perhaps the two mandarins should be applying for sanctuary with the Nowzad charity. For an hour-and-a-half,

The Steerpike Awards of 2021

Well 2021 is at an end and what a hell of a year it’s been. There were laughs, tears, shock, disgust and despair – and that was just the reaction to footage of Matt Hancock’s video nasty. The past twelve months have seen various ups and downs in Britain and abroad, ranging from the highlights of the vaccine rollout and England’s Euro run to low points like the Capitol coup, the Afghanistan debacle and various pandemic pitfalls. And Mr S has been there throughout it all to chart the gossip, drama, high politics and low shenanigans. Tony Benn once sniffed that it was ‘issues, not personalities’ that mattered; Steerpike holds that the inverse is true when