Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
  2. Observations
28 November 2018

Commons Confidential: May’s “economic shit cliff”

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

Parliament’s subsidised bars and restaurants are a fave target of the shadowy, misnamed TaxPayers’ Alliance, long considered an opaque front for wealthy tax-dodgers. Earlier this year cocksure TPA hireling James Price criticised the cost to the taxpayer of feta salads and venison moussaka. So imagine the disquiet over Price quitting the Tufton Street madrasa to stroll into the club – on the public payroll he supposedly despises – as bag carrier for the other place’s Tory leader, Natalie Evans. Preening Price isn’t the first, and probably won’t be the last, public sector-loathing TPA fanatic to land a plum earner under the Conservatives at the “cough” taxpayers’ expense. Do as I say, not as I do.

Brexit mannequin Stephen Barclay, a minister so unimaginative he chose to work for the bank sharing his surname, was close to a diplomatic incident in his old health post. Outside a BBC studio an aide was overheard snorting “a German” when Barclay couldn’t identify a European journalist on the TV monitor. Confining clueless Barclay to an unused ceremonial role would be the safest option.

Downing Street’s increasingly frantic Brextremist spinner Robbie Gibb, a BBC recruit disproving myths that the broadcaster is a left-wing Remainiac hotbed, is alienating civil servants. My Whitehall snout accused Gibb of crossing a political line by seeking to lasso mini mandarins into his Save Theresa campaign. His prediction that Britain will fall off an “economic shit cliff” when MPs reject her Brexit plan is an attempt to bounce faint hearts into backing her in a swift rerun. Downing Street rules out a second vote for 46 million plebs, but not for 650 MPs.

Largely slipping under the radar was Siobhan Benita’s selection as the Liberal Democrat London mayoral candidate to challenge Sadiq Khan in 2020. Six years ago, as an independent she finished a credible fifth – fewer than 8,000 votes behind her new party. My informant whispers that Benita will be slotted into a winnable Westminster seat. She lives in south-west London, where Zac Goldsmith’s 45-vote majority in Richmond Park is vulnerable.

Bids to play the women’s parliamentary football team flooded in and Radio 5 Live asked to commentate on a game after referee John Bercow yellow-carded MPs Hannah Bardell, Lou Haigh, Tracey Crouch, Steph Peacock and Alison McGovern over a kickabout in the Commons chamber. From sick as a parrot to over the moon and other footballing clichés.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. Your new guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture each weekend - from the New Statesman. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product 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.

Corbyn peer Martha Osamor finally takes her seat on 4 December, seven months late. Securing permission to include a Nigerian location in her title proved expensive, at £305 a day in lost allowances.

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

This article appears in the 28 Nov 2018 issue of the New Statesman, How the Brexit fantasy died