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Shameless Tories scramble to join Johnson’s sinking ship

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

Unbelievably there are still shameless Tory MPs who’d sell their souls to serve even a few days as ministers in the dying government of a lying Boris Johnson. In the Members’ Tea Room a lacklustre figure caught looking repeatedly at his phone in the hope of a Downing Street call was tongue-lashed by North Dorset Conservative rebel Simon Hoare. “Back in the day,” he sneered, “your type would’ve applied for a job as chief stoker on the Titanic after it hit the iceberg.” Torpedoed HMS Boris may sink before the fresh crew are fully aboard.

The downfall of Johnson in the wake of Chris Pincher’s drunken groping gave tractor-porn aficionado Neil Parish perhaps his final political ride in Westminster. Feeling hard done by, the farmer donned green corduroy trousers to condemn parliamentary sleaze in front of TV cameras in SW1. Devon was missing a pot calling the kettle black.

Tempers were fraying in the thirsty heat until time was called on parliamentary bar battles between MPs and peers. Spilled drinks and bruised egos will be saved by a truce negotiated between the Serjeant at Arms and Black Rod. The turf war over who could stand where on the terrace saw MPs who had been expelled from the Lords retaliate by refusing peers service in the Strangers’ Bar. “There’s a peace pact,” sniffed an ermined imbiber. “It’s just not been signed yet.” Trebles all round.

Guests invited to the Irish Embassy in London to watch Keir Starmer run up the white flag on Brexit heard barely coded criticism from Dublin’s ambassador, Adrian O’Neill, who hailed EU membership a huge success for his country. One-time arch Remainer Starmer stared blankly into the distance.

MPs dive into doorways or pretend to chat earnestly on mobiles when they spot Andrew Mitchell approaching. Word’s gone round that the former chief whip engages victims in seemingly innocent talk about his memoirs then sends them a dedicated signed copy. Apparently he’s managed to push it on “dozens of MPs in this way who are too polite to return it with a F-off note”, sneered my snout. The hard sell points to an opening in double-glazing warranties after politics.

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Fretting Tories writhing over Johnson’s degradation of the party fear the great wrecker will also take down regional redoubts, particularly the West Midlands mayoralty. They’re worried that shoot-from-the-lip Brummie Jess Phillips may wish to be crowned Queen of the Midlands and topple two-term Tory Andy Street. The mayoralty’s up in May 2024 if the shadow domestic violence minister fancies a job nearer home.

[See also: Keir Starmer’s big gamble pays off as he avoids a Durham police fine]

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