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2 November 2017

Commons Confidential: One contest Boris Johnson will be happy to lose

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

<span style="letter-spacing:
-.1pt”>As Pestminster’s harassment crisis rumbles on, a group of Tory women MPs discussed who the biggest creep is on their side of the House of Horrors. The blond lothario Boris Johnson will for once be happy to lose a contest. My snout whispered that the wretch is a middle-ranking male minister who had an affair with a female cabinet minister. His crime was to boast graphically, ungallantly, loudly and regularly about the eye-watering details of what the pair got up to. The Tory sisterhood is as unforgiving as Labour’s.

<span style="letter-spacing:
-.1pt”>Elsewhere, a Tory with the determined air of a good-natured head girl, Nicky Morgan, explained, “I’m the other one,” in Central Lobby to a visitor mistaking her for “Amber” (Rudd). The unabashed caller requested a selfie anyway. Less tolerant is Ken Livingstone. The one-time London mayor groaned when a member of the public muddled him up with his arch rival Boris Johnson. Another inquired, “Are you that old wizard in Game of  Thrones?” The upside is that no misguided soul has confused Livingstone with Hitler.

<span style="letter-spacing:
-.1pt”>Cometh the hour,
cometh the Beast of Bolsover. Inserting prayer cards into brass holders to bag seats on the green benches is the Commons equivalent of British holidaymakers rising early to place towels on Spanish sun beds. A gaggle of MPs, including Desmond Swayne and Philip Hollobone, stood bewildered when the official who dates the cards was absent. To the rescue arrived Dennis Skinner, who grabbed the ink pad and stamp to sanction cards for all.

All for one and one for all in the Parliamentary Labour Party, where a flood of MPs claimed £25 refunds after Newcastle’s no-nonsense Catherine McKinnell complained that parliamentarians who’d bought expensive all-access passes were barred from the floor of September’s conference. Ordering a round “on Jeremy” in the bar with the mini-windfalls is socialism reaching the parts other parties cannot reach.

<span style="letter-spacing:
-.1pt”>Momentum threats
to take over Labour affiliates are good for business. The coffers of the party’s Irish Society bulge with £10 fees from a counter-revolution, with an unusually popular AGM overspilling into a second room in Portcullis House. In the uproar, Stoke’s statuesque Ruth Smeeth was mistaken for a heckler. The MP told to sit down had only stood up to inform colleagues that a division had been cancelled, so they could stay to vote for a vote that counted.

<span style="letter-spacing:
-.1pt”>King of the selfie
Jeremy Corbyn skipped a royal audience with William Windsor at the Daily Mirror’s Pride of Britain awards in favour of mingling with hoi polloi. Always a Republican, never a courtly Cavalier.

This article appears in the 01 Nov 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Boris: the joke’s over