James GRAY   Conservative MP for North Wiltshire

Last week I was praising a Knight of the Realm on his selfless devotion to duty. This week, I will knock a couple of others for the opposite. HM Ambassador to the EU, Sir Ivan Rogers got his knighthood through loyalty to his political masters. Civil servants put aside their own views on any subject and carry out the people’s wishes as best they can, even if privately they believe them to be ‘rubbish’. To resign in the way that Sir Ivan did, not only from his post, but also as a civil servant; and to use his resignation letter as a way of attacking his boss, the Prime Minister (after secret talks with her predecessor) is an absolute disgrace. It brings the impartial expertise of the Diplomatic Corps into disrepute; and it cuts across the very reason for Sir Ivan getting his knighthood in the first place.

Almost as bad is Sir Andrew Cook, knighted (after the EU referendum) in Mr Cameron’s resignation Honours List, apparently for giving the Conservative Party £1.2million. He now says that he will stop his donations unless we have a ‘soft Brexit.’ Well, irrespective of which side of the EU argument you may be on, I hope that you will agree with me that for any donor to seek to buy a political party’s stance on a policy in this way is an absolute disgrace. So I very much hope that my Party will tell Sir Andrew where he can stick his donations, and that Sir Andrew may well feel some embarrassment at the source of his knighthood.

It is meanwhile alleged in some newspapers that Israeli interests were targeting Sir Alan Duncan, and a number of other pro-Arab Tory MPs with a view to ‘bringing them down.’ It may well be some kind of maverick, and I am a committed member of Conservative Friends of Israel; but we must not tolerate that kind of interference with our democracy.

Across the Atlantic, it seems very likely that the FBI and CIA are correct in their allegation that President Putin tried to influence the outcome of the US election. That is wrong. But it is no different to the way that the US have tried – through overt and covert means - to influence the outcome of most elections around the world for decades.

All of these things are wrong. The most precious jewel in any modern free liberal society must be democracy. It is the right of the people to decide for themselves, to remove unwarranted powers from their governments or governors. Free and open Parliamentary democracy is the bedrock of all of the freedoms, rights and privileges that we hold so dear. Anyone who tries to tamper with any aspect of it should not be considered a decent citizen, far less a Knight of the Realm.