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Andy Burnham burnishes his brand on Labour’s left

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

The latest joke doing the rounds with Labour MPs: “A Blairite, a Brownite, a Milibandite and a Corbynite walk into a pub. ‘Hello, Mr Burnham,’ says the barman.” The King of the North’s fundraiser for the Socialist Campaign Group secretary Richard Burgon, and his backing for the faction’s MP Ian Byrne to be reselected in Liverpool West Derby, had cynics branding “Bendy Andy” a flexible friend.

A bit of a kerfuffle was observed by a snout at the Westminster Tube station entrance to parliament. Broken-nosed Tory action man David Davis didn’t take kindly to a security guard demanding to see his pass. The one-time Brexit secretary, fresh from a media round in which he had demanded the instant deportation of folk deemed to be entering Britain from “safe countries” without official papers, couldn’t produce his. Davis was overheard muttering menacingly that he’d be submitting a formal complaint. Perhaps the sentry will soon find himself deported to Canada Water.

[See also: Boris Johnson is once again shown the door]

Keir Starmer’s Stalinism is cowing leftie MPs. One silenced luminary confessed he feared a purge, via contrived suspensions, that would bar more MPs than Jeremy Corbyn from standing again. What unites Labour is Starmer’s war on non-dom tax status, a proxy attack on Rishi Sunak and his heiress wife, Akshata Murty. Labour focus groups find voters hate the dodge, which, if abolished, could raise for the Treasury an estimated £3.2bn a year. While Murty has agreed to give up the non-dom discount, “Richi”, Britain’s wealthiest PM of modern times, might be liable for further payments politically.

Pandemic? What pandemic? Jungle moonlighter Matt Hancock’s makeover extends to a hireling now screaming that the camel penis-nibbler had nothing to do with awarding NHS contracts while the Covid crisis was at its peak. Hancock might soon be questioning whether he really was health secretary before his CCTV snog-inspired resignation when he gives evidence to the Covid inquiry.

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Sightings of Liz Truss are rare, and the most fleeting prime minister in history missed the irony of slinking into a cocktail bar near London Bridge station called “Nine Lives”. She used up hers at a rate quicker than one a week. My informant was relieved the bell didn’t ring for last orders the moment Truss entered the joint.

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Jeremy Hunt survived a cashpoint test in Portcullis House, successfully withdrawing notes from a hole-in-the-wall. He thus avoided the fate of Rishi Sunak, who couldn’t figure out how to tap and pay £30.01 for petrol in a car he’d borrowed from a Sainsbury’s worker. Two Treasury aides were twitching nervously while Hunt punched in his pin – perhaps they feared another run on the pound.

[See also: PMQs: Rishi Sunak on the ropes over tax breaks for private schools]

This article appears in the 30 Nov 2022 issue of the New Statesman, World Prince