In one of her last actions as the UK’s prime minister, Theresa May offered Scruton his role as chair back on the commission, which is setting out guidelines for architects and developers on house building.
Scruton was sacked by the housing secretary James Brokenshire in April 2019 following “unacceptable” antisemetic and racist comments the chair made in an interview with the New Statesman, which he claimed were taken out of context.
“All has been resolved in a friendly way”
“I know that you still have so much more to give and hope this may also help to put things right after the regrettable events of recent months,” said the housing secretary.
Scruton accepted the role of co-chair, writing that he was “so pleased that all has been resolved in a friendly way” and expressing his desire to “return to the matter in hand, which is so important”.
The Building Better Building Beautiful commission was launched in November 2018 with the aim of addressing the UK’s housing crisis by improving the quality of developments in the planning pipeline.
Scruton to continue commissions campaign against “ugliness”
Scruton, who is outspoken in his dislike of many top architects such as Norman Foster and Daniel Libeskind, told Dezeen his mission was to protect the public from architects “imposing” their own ideals.
“I want to give the public the opportunity to have the kind of architecture they would vote for, not the kind that is imposed on them by the disciples of Le Corbusier and Mies, for whom popular taste is merely an obstacle to ‘progress’,” he said at the time of the launch.
An interim report published by the commission in July urged councils to “say no to ugliness” with new residential developments.
Scruton’s 2018 appointment was controversial from the outset, with complaints made about his previously published views on topics including including date rape and LGBT+ adoption, as well as the antisemetic trope of a “Soros empire” controlling Hungary.
Brokenshire defended Scruton in the House of Commons a “champion [of] freedom of speech” with “strong and controversial views” at the time, but was swift to distance himself after the New Statesman interview.
According to a Freedom of Information request submitted by Dezeen to the ministry of housing, the previous role was unsalaried. However, Scruton did claim £734.35 in expenses while he was originally the chair.
UK to get new prime minister and cabinet reshuffle
The New Statesman released a full transcript and audio recording of the interview to contextualise the quotes and apologised for how they had been represented on social media.
Accepting their apology, Scruton said he was “particularly distressed” the government had sacked him over the article and was “astonished by the comments issued from number ten Downing Street”, attributing it to a “true moral crisis” of the Conservative Party.
This week Theresa May has been succeeded as leader of the Conservative Party – and de facto prime minister of the UK – by Boris Johnson.
Johnson, who was Mayor of London between 2008 to 2016, will meet with the Queen and move into Number 10 Downing Street later today as leader of the country.
There is speculation that his upcoming cabinet reshuffle will make Jacob Rees-Mogg housing minister.
Rees-Mogg published a piece in the Telegraph over the weekend laying out his solution to the housing crisis, including letting people vote on local developments and fast-tracking self-build projects through planning.
Main image courtesy of Policy Exchange.
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