Eviction from Downing Street and more holidays than Michael Palin have left bumbling Boris Johnson a lost soul in Westminster. My snout followed the discarded PM leaving the Commons chamber and hurtling towards the members’ cloakroom. Unable to open the not-that-recently-installed security doors, he pressed the emergency alarm by mistake. A guard was summoned to silence the high-pitched squawk as the back-bench MP blushed below his thinning blond barnet. It was hardly Johnson’s first noisy and embarrassing political exit.
Dirks are being sharpened to depose waistcoat-wearing Ian Blackford as the SNP’s leader in Westminster. Stephen Flynn, the party’s MP for Aberdeen South, has denied he is planning a formal challenge. This has bought Blackford time, but my informant suggested we observe the stone-faced quiet of many of his MPs when he speaks, their unhappiness fuelled by the mishandling of a string of scandals. Bruiser Blackford, one-time chair of a funeral-plan company, is battling to avoid his own political burial.
[See also: More reality TV bookings beckon for Matt Hancock]
Rugby-playing Tory Ben Everitt turned poetic and spouted a Shakespearean “friends, robots, countrymen” at a Westminster reception promoting autonomous delivery machines in his Milton Keynes North constituency. One colleague noted Everitt’s language has improved since he had to apologise after a 2011 tweet abusing the late Labour MP and peer Tessa Jowell resurfaced in 2020. Perhaps he realised words without thoughts never to heaven go, in a Buckinghamshire “Hamlet” with a now-vulnerable 6,255 majority.
Tax rises, interest rate increases, spending cuts and Keir Starmer’s Blair-esque poll leads are panicking Red Wall Tories with thin majorities into making plans for their future after Westminster. A lobbyist whispered that two with majorities below 2,000 had told him they would be available for hire after the election. “We don’t really need Tories – there’ll be a glut of them,” sniffed the lobbyist. “We want Labour people.”
Blink and you’d have missed him as Ukip leader, but ousted Henry Bolton told me he was nevertheless offered £310,000 to go on a reality TV show with Bear Grylls – but the final call never came. Camel-penis-eating moonlighter Matt Hancock may feel a reported £400,000 fee isn’t enough for the ridicule he’s faced. Wait until the Covid inquiry, when he’ll really be screaming “Get me out of here”.
[See also: Ruddy-faced Boris Johnson still harbours hope of a comeback]
This article appears in the 23 Nov 2022 issue of the New Statesman, Russian Roulette