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30 January 2019

Commons Confidential: Dodgy Dave lies low in Davos

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster. 

By Kevin Maguire

Biscuits are on offer as the Cabinet Office seeks to lure trade union leaders back into Brexit talks after tea-only meetings with Theresa May. In the sessions she was, I’m told, on the Maybot automatic setting without small talk or pleasantries. No 10 will be perturbed to learn Unite’s Red Len McCluskey was warned in advance by a Tory minister that she “isn’t very imaginative” during meetings. Should Chief of Staff Gavin Barwell order an inquiry to unmask this disloyal member of May’s government he’d find approximately 100 suspects.

Sheepish David Cameron is proving there’s nothing as ex as an ex-prime minister who lost Europe. A snout returning from Davos whispered that the once arrogant strutter, a chap who lives for publicity, sneaked around with head down. Creeping like a fugitive into private events did at least spare him ridicule. In the Swiss Alps last year, he bravely argued that Brexit “isn’t a disaster”. There wouldn’t be enough St Bernards to rescue the elite from a guffawing-triggered avalanche had Dodgy Dave tried the same excuse at this year’s jamboree.

Ping! Labour’s buzzy leader in the Lords, Angela Smith, receives advice on her phone from greybeards during parliamentary battles at the despatch box. Baroness Basildon disembowelled Bunter-esque Tory throwback Lord Strathclyde with a message informing her that the portly hereditary peer deployed the same delaying procedure in 2004 he claimed would now breach ancient conventions. Back in the day, a scribbled note passed along the front bench might’ve arrived too late. Scolded Strathclyde must wish the future never happened.

Lib Dumb Brian Paddick’s ears will be smarting on the House of Lords naughty step. Home Office minister Susan Williams is accusing Baron Rozzer of the hideous crime in the gilded club of overstating influence. The Tory peer is flabbergasted that the former copper claimed credit for changes to the Counter-Terrorism Bill initiated by Labour’s ermined socialists. Nobody likes a braggart.

Media select committee chair Damian Collins was overheard musing that Canterbury would be a decent home for his wife Sarah, a wannabe MP and former Westminster councillor. Labour upstart Rosie Duffield’s hopes of keeping red a blue bastion sensationally snatched by only 187 votes in 2017 aren’t aided, I hear, by a strained relationship with her local party. Power couples redefine a family-friendly parliament.

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The Conservative Remainer cell have dubbed LBC radio the “Leading Brexit Corporation” in reference to Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage’s talk shows. They could always ring in to make their point.

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

This article appears in the 30 Jan 2019 issue of the New Statesman, Epic fail