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16 November 2017

Commons Confidential: Nigel Farage was uncut and uncensored

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

Garrulous Nigel Farage was uncut and uncensored when my Remainer snout sidled up for a casual chat at Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado Airport. I am reliably informed that the loquacious Brextremist endorsed the idea of the government raising a €20bn divorce offer closer to “probably” €50bn because it is vital to “secure some form of continuity” transition, since “no deal” is “not a good outcome”. Farage’s advice is to use the Italians to bypass the French and Germans. Oh, and another referendum is unnecessary but not undemocratic. Intriguing.

Lamp posts in Saudi fanboy Daniel Kawczynski’s Shrewsbury backyard have been plastered with “Dirty Dan’s Escorts” posters since the Tory MP was reported to the party’s disciplinary panel after an alleged unsavoury episode caught up with him. Eleanor Laing, the deputy speaker, reportedly confronted Dirty Dan in 2013 for asking her young researcher to go on a date with a wealthy overseas businessman old enough to be her father. The dishonourable member for Riyadh Central should reflect that in the tyranny he defends, his corpse might now be swinging from a lamp post.

A Labour source mumbled that party attack dogs overlooked a couple of inconvenient truths when savaging Theresa May and half the cabinet for paying homage to Paul Dacre. Seated among the supplicants at a London bash celebrating the Godfather of Fleet Street’s 25-year fatwa as the editor of the Daily Mail were Jack Straw and David Blunkett. May, fresh from Priti Patel’s departure over her Israel secrecy, lauded Don Paul as a giant of journalism. Can she resist awarding him the coveted knighthood?

Back to the Ukip motormouth in Portugal. Farage was contemptuous of two Tory Brextremists, dismissing Priti Patel as “inexperienced in politics” and Boris Johnson as “not suited for politics”. The Foreign Secretary, he said, would be a better university professor. Unless Johnson secures Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release, he may well be looking for another job soon.

Perhaps it was an unspoken threat to spill soup on laps but Tories on the House of Commons commission buckled under union pressure to concede pay rises of up to 2.76 per cent for catering staff, pushing a food trolley through the old 1 per cent cap. The increases are higher than the deals for coppers and prison officers. Teachers and nurses take note.

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The life of Rodney Bickerstaffe is to be celebrated next April in Methodist Central Hall in Westminster. According to Unison, the deceased former general secretary didn’t want elderly trade unionists risking their safety by travelling in winter. Courteous beyond the grave.

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This article appears in the 15 Nov 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The plot to stop Brexit