Lord Adonis (pictured) quit as chair of the national infrastructure commission on Friday, due to clashes with the Prime Minister over Brexit
The former Labour minister resigned as chair of the national infrastructure commission on Friday, due to clashes with the Prime Minister over Brexit.
He accused Mrs May of siding with Ukip and the ‘Tory hard right’ over her plans to leave the EU’s single market and customs union.
However, it was not in Whitehall that Lord Adonis made the decision to step down, but in a church in the Austrian village of Alpbach on Christmas Day.
The Labour peer told the Observer: ‘I decided in the middle of mass that I was going to resign. When I was skiing the following day I started writing the letter of resignation in my mind while looking out over the Austrian Alps.
‘I was thinking to myself that there may just be a better future.’
Lord Adonis, a passionate remainer, said relations with the government had become ‘increasingly tense’ because they told him to ‘shut up on Brexit’.
Despite refusing to keep quiet, he assured colleagues that his views on Brexit were separate from the ‘future of national infrastructure.’
However, it was not only his opinion on Britain’s departure from the European Union that led to him quitting his post.
He also clashed with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling over the his handling of the East Coast rail franchise.
Lord Adonis quit his post due to the PM’s handling of Brexit and clashed with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling (left) over the East Coast rail franchise
Lord Adonis has slammed Mr Grayling for letting Virgin Trains East Coast walk away from an eight-year deal to run the loss-making railway until 2023.
He said the Transport Secretary’s decision could cost taxpayers billions and result in him being sacked from the Cabinet for wasting public funds.
Mr Grayling, who last night defiantly rejected the charges made against him by Lord Adonis, faces the prospect of an investigation into the franchise by the powerful Commons Public Accounts Committee.
Lord Adonis said: ‘By his sheer stupidity, Chris Grayling has done more than Jeremy Corbyn and Karl Marx combined to advance the cause of renationalising the railways.
If, as seems certain, he lets Virgin Trains East Coast tear up its promise to pay the public purse £2 billion for the last three years of the contract, every private rail franchise in Britain will demand the same and the entire rail franchise system will collapse.
Lord Adonis accused Transport Secretary Mr Grayling of ‘sheer stupidity’ regarding his handling of the East Coast rail franchise
‘When private rail bosses come running to Ministers with a begging bowl, you have to be tough. Mr Grayling’s approach is ‘how big a cheque do you want?’ It is scandalous.’
Lord Adonis said Mr Grayling should have ‘called the bluff’ of Virgin Trains East Coast – which is jointly owned by Brian Souter’s Stagecoach and Richard Branson’s Virgin Trains – and renationalised it.
The peer said that he had done this in 2009, when he was Labour Transport Minister, in relation to National Express – and then banned the company from bidding for other rail services.
A source close to Mr Grayling said: ‘It is very disappointing that, with all his experience, Lord Adonis is making claims without any knowledge of the facts.’
The dispute is part of a bitter ‘dirty tricks’ row over Lord Adonis’s resignation as head of the National Infrastructure Commission.
The peer has claimed the Government threatened to stop co-operating with him because of his attempt to expose the East Coast ‘fiasco’.
He also accused ‘petty’ Downing Street of leaking his resignation. Lord Adonis yesterday claimed Mrs May’s ‘Ukip-style’ Brexit stance meant that ‘Nigel Farage is now PM.’
A Conservative aide said: ‘Adonis should calm down.’