Andrea Leadsom the merchant banker adopted a far-left tactic at the launch of her Brexit bid for the Tory leadership and premiership. The Ukip-backed Leadsamoney staged the event in a small room at the Cinnamon Club curry house in Westminster, so it appeared crowded to mask the glaring absence of cabinet ministers. The presence of the most swivel-eyed Tory anti-Europeans, charmers of the IDS and Bill Cash ilk, created the weirdest gathering in an eatery since Douglas Adams’s Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
Jeremy Corbyn was clinging on for grim life and I hear a shadow cabinet meeting mocked for the Stalinist airbrushing of a critical Tom Watson with loyal Emily Thornberry for the TV cameras was even more surreal in private. The threadbare gathering pretended it was business as usual, the new shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, discussing bus municipalisation and climate change’s Barry Gardiner drought in southern Europe. One person present likened Corbyn to the Sid James character Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond in Carry On Up the Khyber who dined untroubled as shells exploded all around him.
The Brexit bore Priti Patel hadn’t declared for a leadership contender when
I wrote this column but she’ll be an expensive date. My snout walking behind pushy Priti on Westminster Bridge listened as the Poundshop Maggie insisted on her mobile she wanted to be foreign secretary. Small in stature, mighty in ambition.
IPSA has hired a poacher-turned-gamekeeper in Jenny Willott, the former Cardiff Lib Dem MP. The newest £400-a-day board member of the expenses watchdog possesses detailed knowledge of thorny claims. Wallet’s were once the highest in Wales. And she charged taxpayers for the lion’s share of a £1,709.60 four-poster and mattress.
Corbyn’s woes are Ed Miliband’s joy. Labour staffers drinking at Whitehall’s Red Lion shouted “We need you” when the former leader slipped into an Audi in Derby Gate. Milibrother, who rarely enjoyed rapturous greetings in post, smiled sheepishly. Corbyn’s team gritted their teeth.
The SNP’s Tartan Army has alienated the parliamentary staff the party boasted it would eat and drink alongside to eradicate class distinctions in the political Hogwarts. Cheering Iceland to victory against England in the Sports & Social club went down as well as curdled porridge. The next Nat who needs a toilet unblocking will wait long.
Now Nigel Farage has relinquished the Ukip leadership, I’ll tell him what Purple Shirts called his long-suffering German-born wife: “Kirsten the Kraut”.
Kevin Maguire is the associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror
This article appears in the 06 Jul 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The Brexit bunglers