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17 October 2018

Commons Confidential: The DUP plot against Arlene

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster. 

By Kevin Maguire

Arise, Sir Brexit? Dreary Greg Clark, a Business Secretary with the firmness of soggy cardboard, is searching for tycoons who back a potential national economic catastrophe to gift them gongs. My snout with the magnifying glass whispered that Clark’s department is scrutinising the small list of business Brextremists to honour a few of the few.

Cowardly Clark, Chancellor Philip Hammond’s little helper in the rearguard action to avoid destroying what remains of British manufacturing, feels too weak to dismiss self-entitled Leavers moaning they’re ignored when sweeties are handed out. Rewarding Moscow’s favourite Arron “Ronksi” Banks or financial speculator Richard Tice may prove too controversial, though I note unknighted are pub bore Tim Martin, a Wetherspoon boss worth £322m who quibbles about paying staff the legal minimum wage, and half-baked Luke Johnson of the crumbling Patisserie Valerie cake chain.

No surrender to Arlene Foster! Westminster mutterings about Northern Ireland’s DUP MPs wanting to topple the First Minister are reaching my ears. The ten-strong band guard jealously their influence as a Commons tail vigorously wagging the Tory dog – resenting Foster’s bids to call the Brexit shots from Belfast. My informant with the pint of stout slurred that what holds them back, à la May and the Tories, is agreeing who should replace fag-ash Arl.

MPs locked in Portcullis House while parliamentary dad rock band MP4 filmed a promotional video – they release a new album soon and play a Speaker’s House gig on 25 October for a homelessness charity – complained they’re used to the din of rehearsals, but not suspended freedom of movement. Rhondda’s Chris Bryant mused that he shares office and constituency boundaries with Cardiff guitarist Kevin Brennan and it’s easier to escape the valleys than his desk. Brennan’s frequently told he looks like Elton John. Saturday Night’s Alright for Resembling.

I hear one of Nicola Sturgeon’s old party pieces was to joke about learning to duck when Alex Salmond tried to kiss her. Salad days.

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Waiting to rejoin Labour is George Galloway, hoping his Iraq War expulsion is rescinded as unsafe by party general secretary Jennie Formby. Galloway retains comrades in high places: Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Len McCluskey also fought the invasion, his expulsion and believe an ex-MP who won and then lost in Bradford against Labour deserves readmission.

New parliamentary security passes are double sided. Two-faced versions feel strangely appropriate.

Kevin Maguire is the associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror

This article appears in the 17 Oct 2018 issue of the New Statesman, Europe’s civil war