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Jacob Rees-Mogg shuns the barbarians at the gates

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

Hoity-toity Jacob Rees-Mogg has been accused by a peer of treating the police guarding parliament as servants. Mere mortals enter at carriage gates via turnstiles with a pass and Pin code. My ermined snout watched aghast as the posho waited regally at a gate intended for folk with luggage until an officer pressed the release button. Rees-Smug, carrying only a mobile phone, strolled through without so much as an appreciative nod to the copper. “I was utterly appalled that he should treat people with such disdain,” fumed the peer. “His grandfather was a lorry driver and he’s lost his manners.” The upwardly mobile rarely glance back.

Wearing glasses gives Keir Starmer a studious look, emphasising the former director of public prosecutions’ technocratic appeal. Boring is in vogue, and with the Tories pitching Rishi Sunak in the same fashion, observed a Labour veteran, the danger is the election will be fought on policies (and spectacles) not personalities.

[See also: Greying MPs and ministers hit the pension jackpot following Jeremy Hunt’s Budget]

Scottish Labour’s leader, Anas Sarwar, is frustrated the UK party isn’t getting down and dirty with Sunak more often, targeting his extreme wealth. During a trip to London he was overheard urging MPs to soak Sunak as an out-of-touch Tory with a heated swimming pool while families struggle to keep their heads above water.

Smelling a rat, Sajid Javid was one of the relieved MPs who didn’t buy the Led by Donkeys fake offer of South Korean riches. The word is Gavin Williamson was another who dodged the embarrassment suffered by Kwasi Kwarteng, Matt Hancock and Graham Brady. One Tory dismissed them as three stooges who couldn’t run a train set.

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Brexit-backing venture capitalist Jon Moynihan, whom Liz Truss nominated for a peerage, donated £53,265.48 to her party leadership campaign. Sadly, there were no refunds when her disastrous 50-day sojourn as PM came to an end. A controversial recommendation for the House of Cronies might provide some consolation.

The dark cloud of wrongly jailed sub-postmasters threatens to rain on Ed Davey’s parade. A letter by the Liberal leader is circulating in Westminster dating from his stint as postal affairs minister in the ConDem coalition. Accepting the Post Office’s confidence in its flawed Horizon IT system at the time meant he missed his chance to avert one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in British history.

Reprising the 2017 hung parliament is already a lost cause for Sunak. Tory MPs fear £1bn for Northern Ireland wouldn’t buy DUP votes this time, after its opposition to the Windsor framework was steamrollered. What about £2bn for a handbrake turn?

[See also: “There will be blood” inside Labour’s HQ once “Rottweiler” Sue Gray starts as chief of staff]

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This article appears in the 29 Mar 2023 issue of the New Statesman, Easter Special