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Next stop Nato for Lord Cameron?

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

Tory shadow prime minister David Cameron was described by peers and MPs as bemused that tetchy Rishi Sunak lost his marbles and cancelled a meeting with Greek leader and fellow conservative Kyriakos Mitsotakis over the Parthenon sculptures. The strop will squander precious political capital across Europe, apparently.

Lord Dodgy Dave returning as Foreign Secretary is viewed by his old muckers as a signal the election won’t be until next autumn despite speculation. “Dave will have demanded a cast-iron guarantee he has a year not just six months to refresh his contacts book,” mulled one veteran Cameroon. An ex-defence minister believes Cameron is using the global glad-handing job to succeed Jens Stoltenberg when the Nato secretary general’s term ends in October.

[See also: Was “Comeback” Cameron second choice for Foreign Secretary?]

Jonathan Gullis, mouth of the Trent and junior schools minister during the Liz Truss interregnum until Sunak dispensed with him, has a replica ministerial red box. Stoke North’s right-whinge reactionary, part of the incontinent New Conservatives grouplet, was spied by a snout with his showy keepsake on a table in Portcullis House. Boxes can cost around £4,000. That would be £80 for every day in office unless he paid less.

Secretly recorded claiming he was offered a lot of money to defect to Reform UK, Tory deputy chair “30p Lee” Anderson is alienating colleagues with shoot-from-the-lip daft talk such as sending asylum seekers to Orkney instead of Rwanda. A fed-up former cabinet minister groaned the party used to see him as a Rottweiler but now view him as an XL Bully savaging its owner.

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Spare a thought for Sedgefield Tory Paul Howell, searching for a new role when the boundary commission refashions the Durham seat into the likely Labour citadel Newton Aycliffe and Spennymoor. Howell, a member of the rentier class, lost to a Northumberland councillor in the race to be the party’s North East mayoral candidate. Winning Tony Blair’s old seat is no key to a new door.

Keir Starmer’s lot were thrilled that 20 of the Arab world’s ambassadors and diplomatic representatives swept into Labour HQ for a meeting with him and David Lammy, and that Mitsotakis met an opposition leader 20 points ahead in the polls before the scheduled, aborted conflab with Sunak. “We’re the future now,” cooed a shadow cabinet member. Tempting fate?

Gallows humour, Tory-style 2023. Who are the two most successful ministers over the past 13 years? Priti Patel and Gavin Williamson. She slashed net migration to under 50,000, and he achieved record GCSE and A-level results… during Covid.

[See also: What’s printed on Cameron’s ministerial briefs?]

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This article appears in the 29 Nov 2023 issue of the New Statesman, Being Jewish Now