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7 December 2017

Commons Confidential: Donald gets trumped

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

Downing Street is fretting over Donald Trump’s reaction to the glaring absence of an invitation to the Windsor nuptials of Harry Wales and Meghan Markle. The US ogre’s mother was Scottish and, with typical understatement, the reality-TV president views himself as America’s number one royal fan.

Nigel Farage speaks approvingly of Don expressing his love for an unelected hereditary monarchy during their cosy right-whinges. My No 10 snout groaned that Theresa May is fully aware of the ticking diplomatic time bomb. Markle has denounced Trump as “misogynistic”, previously threatening to remain in Canada, where the TV show Suits is filmed, rather than return to the US. Her hubby-to-be can’t be fond of a sexual predator who slavered that he could have “nailed” his mother, Diana.

The Whitehall whisper is that the Foreign Office is floating a compromise: invite First Lady Melania, who met Harry at the Invictus Games in Toronto, or Trump’s daughter Ivanka. Anybody but Trump himself, though Windsor has a McDonald’s for the catering.

In Jeremy Corbyn’s office, a list of potential new peers includes, I’m informed, the veteran black activist Martha Osamor. Blocked by Neil Kinnock from standing for the party in the 1989 Vauxhall by-election, won by Kate Hoey, she’s also the mother of the shadow international development secretary, Kate Osamor. Labour is anxious to avoid another row when it sends reinforcements to an unelected House of Lords it opposes. Shami Chakrabarti wears the only ermine tailored by Citizen Corbyn. The ennoblement triggered controversy by coinciding with her authorship of a report clearing Labour of widespread anti-Semitism.

Farage passed on a rumour that UK MEPs could remain in the European Parliament for a two-year transition period beyond Brexit day on 29 March 2019. With a £73,000 pension, the Ukip motormouth surely couldn’t continue enjoying a first-class seat on the Brussels gravy train he’s supposed to detest?

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That wannabe prime minister and Brextremist, the Tory MP James “not very” Cleverly, was seen googling “Erasmus” on a think-tank panel to discover what Britain would leave. It’s an EU student exchange scheme – another Brexit fail.

Forget Brexit, poverty and the NHS: the Banbury mover Victoria Prentis is creating an all-party group on reeling, the Scottish country dance. Never let it be said that Tories don’t live in the reel world.

Bottom-numbed MPs call PMQs the “director’s cut” when the Speaker ignores a scheduled 12.30pm finish to nudge 1pm. It’s John Bercow’s revenge on Andrew Neil, starving the BBC presenter of Daily Politics airtime to discuss proceedings.

This article appears in the 08 Dec 2020 issue of the New Statesman, Christmas special