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2 January 2019

Commons Confidential: Prepare for Borexit

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster. 

By Kevin Maguire

Self-servative Boris Johnson is no team player. Tory MPs predict the blond ego will take his bat and ball away if he fails to succeed Theresa May, rather than standing again in Uxbridge. My smoking room snout whispered that the narcissistic Brextremist couldn’t stomach Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Penny Mordaunt or Dominic Raab becoming PM. When the serial liar isn’t even the most popular Johnson in parliament – brother Jo enjoys that accolade – a Borexit is surely on the cards.

Paranoid purple plotter Nigel Farage spots schemes everywhere against Brexit and Donald Trump, yet knows nothing about Russia. His own visit to Julian Assange was, he insists, 100 per cent innocent. Farage sniffed a political hit when Britain’s Brexit-backing former ambassador to the US, Christopher Meyer, was attacked on the London Underground shortly before the president’s visit last July. “He has been doing a lot of media about how important the Trump visit is. Police say it looks like robbery – we’ll see,” tweeted Farage. There was no Trump angle. A teenager, 17, will be sentenced on 10 January after pleading guilty to GBH following a verbal altercation. Now, Nigel, about those questions Robert Mueller would like to ask you…

The War of the Pugin Room is escalating as busybody MPs try to keep unaccompanied peers out of the ornate drinking den before 8pm. Rules posted outside the door are longer than the T&Cs on travel insurance documents. After being asked to leave by an MP he didn’t recognise, “more Andrew than” Adonis is mulling a cross-party sit-in by peers. Rosa Parks would be proud. Or perhaps bemused.

I discovered a Carlton Club row was behind Andrew Bridgen walking off live TV to avoid speaking to fellow Conservative MP James Cleverly. Bridgen, a May-baiting Brextremist, was informed by members that not-very Cleverly bad-mouthed him behind his back after being nice to his face. Bridgen was so angry he walked out without paying his bill. This spat could be fun.

The Labour MP since 1997 who received a first Christmas card from Harriet Harman is convinced the wannabe Madam Speaker’s fishing for votes. If so, she wasted a stamp. He’s promised his support to rival Lindsay Hoyle when John Bercow vacates the chair.

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A stylish answer from John Major when the former PM was recognised on a train. “Are you who I think you are?” enquired a woman. “I used to be,” he replied.

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Polished and gleaming, a Westminster Hall plaque marking Charles I’s 1649 death sentence was refurbished. No wonder Queenie isn’t taken that way for state openings.

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

This article appears in the 02 Jan 2019 issue of the New Statesman, 2019: The big questions