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27 June 2018

Commons Confidential: Jacob Rees-Mogg’s fading star

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster. 

By Kevin Maguire

Runway runaway Boris Johnson’s future is in the past, after the cowardly Foreign Secretary’s Kabul caper saw him mercilessly mocked by Conservative comrades sneering into their Pimm’s on the Commons terrace before voting to bulldoze Heathrow homes. Tories laughing at their lie-ability is no consolation for a rival Brextremist Old Etonian toff. Bespectacled posh beanpole Jacob Rees-Mogg frets that his own popularity is similarly waning. Keeping up 18th-century appearances in a buttoned-up three-piece suit on one of the hottest days of the year, the one-chap nanny state informed yours truly: “In a year they will be saying ‘Who was Jacob Rees-Mogg?’” Must we really wait that long?

Tom Watson clearly isn’t the man he was since shedding 92 pounds on a buttered coffee diet. The Labour deputy leader’s way was blocked when he went to vote by a tall doorman who didn’t recognise the slip of a lad before him, the uniformed gatekeeper declaring only MPs were allowed to pass during a division. Willowy Watson, an MP since 2001, should retell the encounter himself. The politician formerly known as Tommy Two Dinners is considering fitness video and diet book deals. Please, no Lycra.

Shami Chakrabarti kept it real on Tyneside. Met at Newcastle station by Jarrow’s Stephen Hepburn and a small constituency delegation, the shadow attorney general hopped on the Metro to bypass roads gridlocked by the Great Exhibition of the North. Working-class locals were pleasantly surprised to discover the baroness wasn’t her Daily Mail hoity-toity caricature. When John McDonnell spoke in Jarrow he asked for all the pints bought for him to be removed first. On another occasion, officials distracted former Labour general secretary Iain McNicol while Geordies brawled in a corridor outside. Citizen Chakrabarti got off lightly.

Harriet Harman on the terrace carrying a jug of Pimm’s for another MP was immediately interpreted as canvassing for the speakership. Every good deed is another vote.

Edinburgh’s Tommy Sheppard is probably the only SNP MP who’ll cheer if England win the World Cup. The comedy club founder drew Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions in the Strangers’ Bar sweepstake. The winnings would buy his beer to cry into.

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The Lords and Commons Cricket Club appealed in a round robin email headed “Anyone for holy cricket?” for players against a Vatican XI on 12 July. “You wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of a bodyline ball from Pope Francis!” wrote Lord O’Shaughnessy’s emissary. Given that the Argentinian is 81, they haven’t a prayer he’ll play.

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

This article appears in the 27 Jun 2018 issue of the New Statesman, Germany, alone