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9 November 2017

Commons Confidential: Not resigning is the new loyalty in Theresa May’s circus

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

Intrigued health officials diagnose sudden cockiness in Jeremy Hunt. The prognosis is a cash injection in funereal Phil Hammond’s Budget or the promise to be moved out of the NHS for the health sec. Begging to be sacked is gloomy Patrick McLoughlin. Left clutching for months an unused Dignitas ticket, the forlorn Tory chairman’s a redundant bystander in the Pestminster scandal. My Tory snout murmured that not resigning is the new loyalty in Theresa May’s circus.

Electoral arithmetic’s part of the equation as Labour wrestles with suspended Jared O’Mara, a Sheffield MP who didn’t travel far on his journey from misogyny. The one-time bar owner uneases the party by whining he might quit the House of Horrors imminently. Losing a by-election to the Libs would hurt but for the Cons would be a disaster, reinforcing May’s vulnerable majority. Desperate Labour hopes £74,000 a year will avert a calamity.

Brexit sleazester Mark Garnier ordering then assistant Caroline Edmundson, a parliamentary fixture married to Sky News foghorn Jon Craig, into a Soho sex shop to buy a couple of vibrators is reducing everyday gripes. Waistcoated Yorkshire Tory Alec Shelbrooke observed that his own hirelings would no longer object if he sent them to Costa for coffees.

Rags to riches Labour peer Andrew Stone (aged 15 he started selling cloth from a market barrow and rose to become boss of M&S) is launching an all-party yoga group to promote the benefits of spiritual stretching. Contorted Theresa May could discover peace of mind by copying India’s asana-sitting Narendra Modi. Most of her louche cabinet struggle to stand on two legs never mind do a downward-facing dog.

Word reaches my lugs of Scottish Secretary David Mundell warmly slapping on the back SNP-er John McNally after the Nat brandished a red card for Douglas Ross, the Moray Tory censured for skipping parliament to be assistant referee at a Barcelona football match. Mundell used to enjoyed his vanquished status as the only Scottish Tory, and now frets that he’s the odd 13th in the baker’s dozen sitting on Conservative benches.

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Forget alleged extreme porn. The wife of a Tory minister whispered to me she’d feared a Damian Green invitation to join him at home in Kent was found on the computer cops examined. An entirely innocent bidding, I’m sure.

Commons staff whisper that a right-wing former minister was questioned after the Brexiteer pointed at non-British waiters and mocked “you’re going home”. The MP maintained it was “banter” to escape censure. My snout with the tray is unamused.

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This article appears in the 08 Nov 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The Tory sinking ship