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12 April 2018updated 24 Jun 2021 12:24pm

Commons confidential: Michael Fallon compensates for lost cabinet salary with new £50,000 side job

Your weekly dose of gossip from Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

Old school Tory grandee Nicholas Soames is the MP for Mid Sussex and a grandson of Winston Churchill. During the Easter parliamentary recess, the old Etonian allowed his land near Horsham to be used for a bunny hunt… with hounds. Savaging Bugs isn’t illegal under the 2004 Hunting Act. My passing snout growled that the £10 bloodfest on Bell’s Farm in Warninglid was billed as an “All Breeds Rabbit Hunt – Bring Your Own Dog!” to raise funds for the local pack’s kennels. Hunters were poured a welcome drink and there was a barbecue, plus licensed bar. Thirsty work!  Persistent drizzle may have spared a few of the warren by dampening the enthusiasm of the county set. Soames is elected proof that the trail of Tory blue bloods hasn’t gone cold.

Tory glee is telling since braggart Kemi Badenoch’s grovelling apology to Harriet Harman for hacking the former Labour deputy leader’s website to post propaganda. One Tory giggled ungenerously that his ambitious colleague, who is MP for Saffron Walden in Essex, had gone from rising star to short-lived shooting star in one boastful confession. Badenoch’s not been so unhappy since she spotted yours truly sitting behind her on the train to London after the young MP’s star billing before Theresa May’s “big cough” speech at last year’s Tory conference in Manchester. Talk about cramping her style. Congratulations had to be whispered to avoid detection by radar-lugs.

Syria, Russia, Israel and Palestine aren’t the world’s only trouble spots for Jeremy Corbyn, the embattled Labour leader. I heard a whisper that shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry is yearning to make a keynote speech on Iran but the Labour leader’s office isn’t as keen for it to be delivered as she is. The subject will become unavoidable if US rogue president Donald Trump explodes the successful nuclear deal with Iran.

Human octopus Michael Fallon’s accepted his cabinet career is over since wandering hands saw him marched out of the Ministry of Defence in disgrace. The MP for Handsy North, South, East and West has grabbed a £50,000-a-year number with a property developer. The pompous Fallon has admitted to friends that his government days are finished. The bit on the side nearly matches his lost salary, however.

Coppers are a tease in parliament. American tourists peering into a mesh-covered crate collecting water dripping from Westminster Hall’s roof asked what the box was for. “We keep the Speaker’s pet alligator in it,” replied a uniformed officer. Noticing it was empty except for an inch of rain, a second exclaimed, “Oh no, it’s escaped again.” Yanks can be quite light on their feet. 

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

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This article appears in the 11 Apr 2018 issue of the New Statesman, Syria’s world war