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3 October 2018

Commons Confidential: The Tartan Tories turn on Boris

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

The ears of Theresa May’s chief Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins must have burned during the Conservative conference in Brum. Word is relations are strained with the PM, not because of the surprise Salzburg slap, but a promise he made to Michel Barnier in March that the UK would definitely remain in the customs union. Nor is any love lost between Robbins and David Davis. The former Brexit secretary demanded Robbins’s sacking after accusing him of leaking plans to stockpile food before publication of official advice. So paranoid was DD he despatched officials to check a blueprint was still locked in his safe. This lot couldn’t negotiate their way out of a paper bag.

In the bowels of the Dark Star that was Tory conference, the oligarch Alexander Temerko, a Ukrainian-born Tory donor, was overheard grumbling that his one-time favourite character Boris Johnson has joined the Sith. “Boris has gone over to the dark side,” lamented Temerko, “but he’s not quite yet Darth Vader.” With his powers fading surely the deranged troll resembles a bastard child of Chewbacca and Grand Moff Tarkin.

Somebody has a wicked sense of humour. Left-footer Stephen Pound was overjoyed that an Oliver Cromwell bust vanished recently from the members’ tea room stairwell, after he was chief suspect when the “Butcher of Drogheda” was turned to face the wall earlier this year. The Ealing North MP’s celebrations proved short-lived. Parliamentary authorities moved the slaughterer of Irish Catholics close to Pound’s office in 1 Parliament Street and fitted a vibration alarm that sounds if anyone touches it. Cromwell’s revenge will be daily.

Taking time out from Operation Arse, a Tartan Tory plot to stop Johnson replacing May, Scottish Secretary David Mundell has located fresh sources of avocados from Uruguay, should Brexit disrupt European imports. Avoiding riots in Waitrose is the government’s top priority.

Best For Britain’s Paul Butters was made to feel like a naughty schoolboy at the John Major-David Miliband European embrace in South Shields. The head of the school hosting the talkathon opened a window and shouted at the spinner outside to stub out a crafty fag. Armed detectives were ordered to do the same. All obeyed. Perhaps Harton Academy’s no-nonsense head, Ken Gibson, could negotiate Brexit.

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During a heated meeting of Diane Abbott’s Hackney North Labour Party, the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth for heckling Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth at an anti-Semitism event was likened to the Birmingham Six, Guildford Four and Hillsborough miscarriages of justice. Perspective, comrades.

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This article appears in the 03 Oct 2018 issue of the New Statesman, The fury of the Far Right