Julian Lewis wins intelligence committee chairmanship in blow to Chris Grayling

Former Cabinet minister Chris Grayling has missed out on the chairmanship of Parliament’s intelligence watchdog.

His fellow Tory MP Julian Lewis secured the role despite widespread expectation that Mr Grayling would receive the backing of the Conservative-dominated Intelligence and Security Committee.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was widely believed to want former transport secretary Mr Grayling to become the chairman of the body which oversees the work of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.

MP portraits
Julian Lewis was elected as chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)

But the committee members voted instead for former defence select committee chairman Dr Lewis.

With the Conservatives enjoying a majority – with five out of nine places on the committee – there had been concern at Westminster that the Tory members would be “whipped” to support Mr Grayling despite concerns about his expertise.

Former national security adviser Lord Ricketts had warned that Mr Grayling – who earned the nickname “Failing Grayling” during a chequered ministerial career – does not “match up” to the authority and reputation of former chairs.

Yes that puts the ISC into the hands of someone with much wider experience of defence and security. Let’s hope he and the Committee will be willing to take the same independent-minded line as their predecessors! https://t.co/ILQrZRMsWK

— Peter Ricketts (@LordRickettsP) July 15, 2020

Following Dr Lewis’ success, Lord Ricketts said the body was now in the “hands of someone with much wider experience of defence and security”.

As well as Mr Grayling and Dr Lewis, the members of the ISC are Tory MPs Theresa Villiers, Sir John Hayes and Mark Pritchard, Labour MPs Dame Diana Johnson and Kevan Jones, the Labour peer Admiral Lord West and the SNP MP Stewart Hosie.

Mr Johnson has faced criticism over the delay in appointing the committee which has not met since the last parliament was dissolved in November last year.

The committee has yet to publish its long-awaited report into Russian interference in UK politics after Mr Johnson refused to clear it for release before last year’s general election.

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