Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
  2. Observations
20 June 2018updated 21 Jun 2018 10:29am

Commons Confidential: Gove goes Fox-hunting

Michael Gove and Liam Fox engaged in what an informant gleefully calls “blazing rows”. 

By Kevin Maguire

Stung by barbs that ambition marches far ahead of ability, work experience Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is scrambling to recover a little of his lost authority. The former fireplace salesman, who quacks like a Yorkshire mallard, is receiving voice coaching, whispered a Tory snout, in the hope of sounding Churchillian. Wimpy Williamson, hurt by the Private Pike jibes, requires far more than a borrowed growl to armour up and be taken even half seriously. The stupid boy’s most famous attack, inviting Russia to “shut up and go away”, is toe-curlingly witless whatever the lightweight’s tone.

When Brextremists fall out will honest Remainers come by their own? Two old Leavers-in-arms, Michael Gove and Liam Fox, engaged in what an informant gleefully calls “blazing rows” over how far Britain sails from continental Europe. The dispute was triggered over the future of environmental rules. Green convert Gove believes it’s best to stick close to existing regulations, while fly-tipper Fox wants them dumped to free his hands in trade negotiations. The dispute’s more fundamental than whether Donald Trump insists British carnivores be force-fed chlorinated chicken as part of a UK-US deal. Cabinet Brextremists angrily falling out with each other is the first piece of good news Theresa May’s heard this year.

The Malaysian owners of the Gay Hussar don’t want the restaurant but they’re fighting to retain Martin Rowson’s caricatures which adorn the walls. The cartoonist, a director of the Goulash Co-operative scheming to save the famous London leftie canteen, insists the sketches of the great and bad, collectively worth £30,000 for insurance purposes, remain his and is insisting that the Corus company returns them. This bitter dispute’s unlikely to be settled over a lunchtime bowl of chilled wild cherry soup and three bottles of bull’s blood.

There’s grumbling from peers about Labour’s small Leaver band criticising the vermin in ermine for challenging Brexit. My lordly source remarked that MPs Frank Field and Kate Hoey regularly lunch in “the other place”, while Graham Stringer’s no stranger to the bars. The welcome may not be as warm in the future.

Bumptious Matt “goes off half-cocked” Hancock’s face was a picture when Tommy “no dinners” Watson turned the tables on the Culture Secretary at a music awards ceremony. Hancock looked pleased with himself after mocking Watson for low ticket sales to the JezFest. Jeremy Corbyn’s deputy, who responded by praising Half-cocked for adopting Labour policies banning fixed-odds terminals in betting shops and saving small music venues, showed it’s always better to have the last word.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday - from the New Statesman. The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Content from our partners
How are new rail networks boosting the economy?
Setting the stage for action on climate finance
Drowning in legacy tech: the move to sustainable computing – with Chrome Enterprise

This article appears in the 20 Jun 2018 issue of the New Statesman, Conservatives in crisis