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13 November 2019

Commons Confidential: The moulting Prime Minister

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster. 

By Kevin Maguire

Criticised for dishevelment at the Cenotaph as well as laying that poppy wreath upside down, Boris Johnson’s failure to comb his unkempt barnet is no longer simply the cultivation of a messy blond trademark. Tory handlers whisper that the Prime Minister is concerned that strands of his thinning mop fall out whenever he risks grooming. Scruffy hair has long been the glue holding together Alexander Boris de Piffle Johnson’s contrived pitch as the common person’s Old Etonian. Alec Douglas-Home was the last baldie PM. Appointed 1963, he lost in ’64. December 12 can’t arrive soon enough for the moulting Tory Brextremist.

Jeremy Corbyn’s billet-doux to Tom Watson was so warm you might wonder if it was really dictated by the departing deputy himself. You’d be right. My snout in the wannabe PM’s office muttered that a draft was submitted by Watson, which Corbyn spiced up to let the world know he’d given his departing underling a couple of horseradish plants. Word is circulating in Labour’s campaign HQ that WhatsApp messages exist proving Corbyn and John McDonnell approved, in advance, September’s botched political assassination of Watson.

Bus drivers get about. Next stop for one of the blokes behind the wheel of Jo Swinson’s electric battle bus was driving models for the Victoria’s Secret saucy lingerie chain. Mix up the schedules, and voters in North East Somerset would get an eyeful while the Lib Dem leader canvassed awkwardly on the catwalk.

Political hacks up from London to hear Nigel Farage’s surrender were later barracked in Hartlepool’s Wetherspoon, the Ward Jackson. Angry drinkers mistook the scribblers for Tories. This northern town isn’t embracing the right with the enthusiasm pretended by Johnson’s Tory Brexit Party or Farage’s Brexit Tory Party.

Never one to hide his light under a bushel – ermine’s gone to ex-Labour MP John Mann’s head. In the Retford Guardian, which carries his “Mann of the People” column, the baron has changed his byline from John to the grander Lord Mann.

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Trade union war will erupt when Westminster reopens. Unite’s recruitment of parliamentary staff is challenged by Community – an aide to Stephen Kinnock is inviting researchers to join a new branch of a union selling moderation. There will be no community feeling this December.

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Labour MP Gareth Snell looks as if he likes his food, boasting of always sending back restaurant meals served on boards or slates. Demanding a plate, preferably one made in the Potteries, is smart. Snell is defending a thin 2,620 majority in Stoke Central.

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

This article appears in the 13 Nov 2019 issue of the New Statesman, How Britain was sold