The “Beast of Bolsover” and veteran of the Labour benches Dennis Skinner’s jokes during the State Opening of Parliament have become a tradition as entrenched as Black Rod’s knocking (albeit louder and more raucous).
But today, he remained silent, following Black Rod entering the Commons and summoning MPs to hear the Queen in the House of Lords. His reason? He was too tired. Skinner is getting up at the crack of dawn to ensure he takes his usual seat in the Commons, which the new SNP MPs have been trying to reserve since arriving. He told the Telegraph: “You have to get up very early in the morning to do it. I was up at just after 6 o’clock and I had to do it yesterday.”
If you want to watch a medley of his past interjections, click here. And here’s a rundown of some of his greatest heckles over the years:
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“Royal Mail for sale. Queen’s head privatised.”
“Jubilee year, double dip recession, what a start,” shouted Skinner, prompting cries of “shame!” from Tory MPs.
As Black Rod arrived in the Commons, Skinner joked: “Royal expenses are on the way.”
Skinner quipped: “Any Tory moles at the palace?”, a reference to the recent arrest of the Tory MP Damian Green in connection with Home Office leaks.
After two protected hen harriers were shot dead on the royal family’s Sandringham estate, Skinner remarked: “Who shot the harriers?” Prince Harry was questioned by the police but no charges were brought.
In reference to the new film The Queen, Skinner asked Black Rod: “Have you got Helen Mirren on standby?”
Following a series of break-ins at Buckingham Palace, Skinner asked: “Did she lock the door behind her?”
Skinner shouted, “Tell her to read the Guardian” after the newspaper launched a new campaign calling for Britain to become a republic.
Skinner cried: “New Labour, New Black Rod”, an adaptation of the campaign slogan “New Labour, New Britain”.
As pressure grew on the Queen to pay tax on her personal income, Skinner ordered Black Rod: “Tell her to pay her taxes.”
Skinner quipped: “It tolls for thee, Maggie”, a reference to Margaret Thatcher’s imminent resignation as prime minister.