Commons Confidential

The latest whispers from Westminster

The Browns are unlikely to schmooze Silvio Berlusconi with the gusto of the freebie-loving Blairs. Cherie happily sang “Summertime” for her supper in the one-time cruise-ship crooner’s Sardinian love nest as “Viva Tony!” fireworks lit up the Italian sky. Given all we know now about the lounge lizard (Silvio, not Tony), perhaps Gordon and Sarah are wise to keep their diplomatic distance. A snout mutters about another reason for our Supreme Leader’s suspicion of the permatanned billionaire (again, Silvio, not Tony). At an early dinner, Berlusconi turned to Brown and blamed “commie judges” for the bribery conviction of David Mills, aka Mr Tessa Jowell. Justice, he said, would be served by changing the judges – a constitutional innovation beyond even Totalitarian Labour.

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The Tory knight of the shires Sir Nicholas Winterton has accused the Rhondda rumbler Chris Bryant of rudeness for failing to address him with due deference not once, not twice, but three times during a bore-a-thon about statutory instruments. Colleagues note that Bryant, a former curate-turned-minister, exchanging God for Gord, has flown by the seat of his pants ever since that Y-fronts moment.

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Shaun Woodward is making Labour love Peter Mandelson a little more. The Dark Prince is grudgingly respected by the Talibrown. The Ulster viceroy, on the other hand, is mocked by a Talibrown irritated by a Tory defector ill-advisedly urging the Supreme Leader not to shift ground in the Labour investment v Tory cuts war. Wooden is known as “Vapour” in Downing Street, for his knack of squeezing through the tiniest crack to appear at Brown’s side.

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If only the MP for Pool South, Stewart Jackson, were as careful with taxpayers’ money as he is with his own. The Tory frontbencher may presumably be trusted to run a bath after claiming £304.10 to be taught how to maintain a swimmer in his Peterborough backyard. Yet a profligacy in public isn’t matched in private. My informant with the tray watched Jacko entertaining two young women over lunch. Taking Druggie Dave’s age of austerity to heart, he took them to the self-service Press Gallery canteen. And he didn’t even buy desserts.

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Home Secretary Alan Johnson was a picture of innocence during the plot to oust Brown and replace him with a former postie with the initials A J. Not so his entourage. It has come to the attention of No 10 that one of his team offered a job in Downing Street to a hackette.

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Super-rich “Vapour” Woodward’s jostling in No 10 reminded a Tory informant of a working lunch when Wooden was a true blue. Pret A Manger sarnies were ordered, served in their wrappers on a silver tray carried by a white-gloved butler. Even then, mumbled the informant, Wooden confused wealth with political clout.

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MPs are receiving a growing number of email jokes. One that popped up in Peter Kilfoyle’s inbox was a conversation between an elderly couple. Do you remember our sexual relations? asked a wistful hubby. No, replied his wife, we don’t get a Christmas card from them.

Kevin Maguire is associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror