Page last updated at 14:59 GMT, Wednesday, 7 October 2009 15:59 UK

Grayling laughs off Dannatt gaffe

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling: ''I hope that this isn't a political gimmick''

Chris Grayling has brushed off a gaffe about General Sir Richard Dannatt's role as an adviser to his own party.

The senior Tory had been asked by the BBC about a plan to offer the former head of the Army a defence role.

But, apparently thinking it was a Labour appointment, he said: "I hope that this isn't a political gimmick."

Later he said he misheard the question, adding: "It's a bit embarrassing really because I would have liked to give Gen Dannatt a more enthusiastic welcome."

Sources have told the BBC that Gen Dannatt will be offered an advisory role by David Cameron and will be elevated to the House of Lords.

'Really delighted'

Asked if he was being lined up to "be a junior defence minister in a future Tory government" by the BBC's Emily Maitlis, Mr Grayling - the shadow home secretary - appeared to think it was the prime minister, not his own party, who was offering the general a job.

Mr Grayling said he admired Gen Dannatt, but hoped it was not a "political gimmick": "We've seen too many appointments in this government of external people where it's all been about Gordon Brown's PR."

Gordon Brown invited several figures from outside politics to become ministers in his "government of all the talents" when he became PM in 2007.

What we've seen today is that Chris Grayling is so keen to do Britain down, he'll attack anything - including his own party
Alan Johnson
Home secretary

Later Mr Grayling told the BBC: "It was a misunderstanding in the television studio before I went on air and I misheard the question and I thought this was a government appointment.

"I'm really delighted it's a Conservative appointment, I wish I had known beforehand."

He said bringing in outside talent was "really good news" and the government had not used its outside experts "wisely".

But his counterparts in Labour and the Liberal Democrats seized on the mistake.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said: "What we've seen today is that Chris Grayling is so keen to do Britain down, he'll attack anything - including his own party."

And for the Lib Dems, Chris Huhne said Mr Grayling had "let the cat out of the bag".

"There is no real difference between Labour and the Tories when it comes to gimmicks rather than solutions," he said.

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