Transport Minister Grant Shapps says he “wasn’t aware” of the similarities between his speech about the collapse of Thomas Cook and one made by his predecessor about Monarch Airlines.
A comparison suggests his speech in the House of Commons on Wednesday closely followed that of Chris Grayling’s in the wake of Monarch’s collapse in 2017.
Some facts in the Monarch text were amended with Thomas Cook details.
The Guardian newspaper first disclosed the similarities.
In a tweet later, the minister said: “Although I wasn’t aware that some of these words had been used before, the message in my statement stands true.”
The overlap of each man’s speech is from the start, as shown by transcripts from Hansard, Parliament’s official record.
Mr Shapps begins his speech yesterday with: “With your permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement about the steps that the Government have been taking to support those affected by the collapse of Thomas Cook, particularly for the 150,000 passengers left abroad without a flight back and the 9,000 people here who have lost their jobs in the UK.
This compares with Mr Grayling’s opening from October 2017: “With your permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement about the steps the Government have been taking to support those affected by the collapse of Monarch Airlines, in particular the 110,000 passengers left abroad without a flight back to the UK and the almost 2,000 people who have lost their jobs.”
Both MPs called the airlines an “iconic British brand”, and emphasised that their collapse did not reflect “the general health of the UK aviation sector”.
Mr Shapps also said: “We have never had the collapse of an airline or a holiday company on this scale before, but we have responded swiftly and decisively. Right now, our efforts are rightly focused on getting those passengers home and looking after those employees who have lost their jobs.”
And here is the original from Mr Grayling: “We have never had the collapse of an airline or holiday company on this scale before, and we have responded swiftly and decisively. Of course, right now our efforts are rightly focused on getting employees into new jobs and getting passengers home.”
On Twitter, Liberal Democrat MP Luciana Berger accused Mr Shapps of “copying people’s homework”. She said it demonstrated the government’s “empty words”.
It is not the first time that Mr Grayling has been caught up in matters of alleged plagiarism.
In January, while still transport secretary, he was involved in the Seaborne Freight affair, when the government awarded the company a ferry contract to run extra services in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The firm’s website used terms and conditions apparently intended for a takeaway food firm. Its original terms and conditions advised customers to check goods before “agreeing to pay for any meal/order”.