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5 October 2017

Commons Confidential: Boris Johnson is fighting on two fronts

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

Now that there’s a Foreign Office civil war within the wider Conservative civil war, the blond ambition Boris Johnson is fighting on two fronts. The over-indulged Dudley Dursley of Tory Towers blames the dinky deputy Alan Duncan for a string of character assassinations portraying BoJo (accurately, which is why it must hurt so much) as an incompetent clown ridiculed around the globe and both a national and international embarrassment.

Nobody takes themselves more seriously than jittery Johnson and I’m told that the Foreign Secretary confronted chatty Duncan, who theatrically denied this most heinous of charges. That the public assaults on Johnson simultaneously hailed Duncan, the Europe minister, as a political titan holding the Foreign Office together, must be a remarkable coincidence.

Politicians crave recognition, so spare a thought for the Invisible Minister. He travelled unrecognised in cattle class to the Tory conference. Nobody gave him a second glance at Manchester Piccadilly Station. In the taxi queue, he was just another fare in a mac with a suitcase. Damian Green is the First Secretary of State and Theresa May’s deputy.

The purple peril poison-spewer Anne Marie Waters felt sorry for herself after Henry “Who?” Bolton stole a Ukip crown that she fully expected to wear. My snout saw Waters weeping buckets in a Torquay car park. Everybody else would have cried had the Islamophobe won.

It’s seven years since Ian Paisley, Jr, inherited Daddy’s North Antrim seat. He must toddle around Westminster with his eyes shut. Bouncing into a queue waiting to enter a music awards bash in London, the DUP foghorn bellowed to the pair in front: “And what do you two girls do?” The “girls”, aged 30 and 36, are Labour MPs.

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Cons haven’t forgiven the angelic Rosie Duffield for vanquishing Julian Brazier in June – Canterbury’s most sensational moment since Henry II’s knights dispatched Thomas Becket. The Labour sisterhood dub Anna Soubry, the Guardianistas’ favourite Tory, Ms Hoity-Toity after she was said to have lectured St Rosie that the glitter streaks in her hair were unparliamentary.

Labour figures snapped smiling in Brighton should be scowling. One of the trade unions organised a secret selfie competition to be photographed with the biggest right-winger in town. The winner was pictured with his arm around a beaming Ben Bradshaw.

The lack of respect for Theresa May saw the PM forced to wait to speak at a Manchester reception until two sponsors plugged their wares. The departed praetorian Fiona Hill would never have stood for that. 

This article appears in the 04 Oct 2017 issue of the New Statesman, How the rich got richer