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No justice for civil servants in Rishi Sunak’s reshuffle

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

Home Office staff weeping over Rishi Sunak’s reappointment of Suella de Vil as Home Secretary weren’t the only Whitehall team in dismay over those returning to their former positions in the cabinet reshuffle. My snout at the Ministry of Justice whispered that civil servants were wishing for a new lord chancellor other than Dominic Raab – briefly replaced by Brandon Lewis under Liz Truss. Cue uproar over a cruel extended sentence with Raab C Brexit.

Sitting in a dentist’s chair, Tory MP Nigel Evans feared the worst when asked what he did for a living. “Oh, you must be very busy,” was the matter-of-fact reply when the Deputy Speaker came clean. The dentist was Rishi Sunak’s cousin. “How are your teeth?” was a gift of an opening line for the PM when he met Evans. Fangs for caring.

[See also: Ruddy-faced Boris Johnson still harbours hope of a comeback]

Gibraltar voted 96 per cent for Remain in the EU referendum, so maybe there was a twinge of guilt in armed-forces minister James Heappey’s speech in London to celebrate the Rock’s national day. Brexit has strained relations with Spain and assembled ambassadors were surprised to hear a promise of more Royal Navy warship visits to Gib. Let’s hope Rear Admiral Heappey is reminded that Spain’s a Nato ally before launching gunboat diplomacy.

The departure of Chris Pincher MP from the Tory party in July over alleged groping hasn’t corked the Tamworth tippler’s outside earnings. He’s registered £400 he received in August for wine columns in the Critic magazine, and he has another piece on vino in the October edition. Small beer, perhaps, compared with Boris Johnson’s likely windfall, but still shameless.

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Liz Truss liked to demand a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc on her travels, and a Foreign Office mole reports she wasn’t popular with ambassadors. Many an embassy held a quiet party when she was ejected from No 10, I’m told. Revenge is a drink best poured cold.

Tory tearoom cynics have opened a sweepstake on which of their colleagues will be first to publicly submit a letter of no-confidence in the PM. The favourite is “Hokey Cokey” Andrew Bridgen, who was in-out with David Cameron, in for Theresa May, in-out-in over Boris Johnson, then called for Liz Truss to go. That’s what it’s all about.

[See also: Unwhippable Tory MPs have carte blanche to rebel]

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This article appears in the 02 Nov 2022 issue of the New Statesman, The Meaning of Rishi Sunak