Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. UK Politics
21 April 2021

Commons Confidential: Banished from the boozer

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster. 

By Kevin Maguire

Taxpayers have been good for Boris Johnson. Take the four-bedroom cottage near Thame in Oxfordshire that the Prime Minister is seeking to rent out for £4,250 per month while he splits his time between council housing in Downing Street and Chequers. Ownership of the Old Farm House, with its swimming pool and tennis court, was financed in part by parliamentary expenses. Johnson claimed £85,299 under the second-home allowance between 2004 and 2008 on a property bought in 2003 when he was MP for Henley. Old Etonians are partial to wealthfare, as David Cameron’s targeting of the NHS confirms.

The PM is likely to be sent only as far as the Midlands ahead of the 6 May elections. Conservative HQ pollsters detected a north-southish division on Johnson. Geordies and Mancunians are significantly less enamoured with the blond bungler than Black Country folk. The happy upside for Johnson is an extra hour or so in bed, rising later to travel nearer.

High-speed jobs for the boys, with talk in the West Midlands that Andy Street has been lined up to be Birmingham-based chair of HS2 should he fail to be re-elected as mayor of the region. Applications closing on 20 May – a fortnight after election day – is a coincidence, I’m sure. The £200,000 salary for a three-day week would be a chunky rise on Street’s current £79,000, if still a fraction of the £1m he earned when boss of John Lewis.

[see also: Commons Confidential: The House of Borgia]

Chased out of a Bath boozer by a Covidiot landlord, Keir Starmer groans whenever Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension from the PLP is raised. Labour is organising hotel accommodation for September’s annual conference in Brighton. Should it go ahead with Corbyn still suspended, the leader risks a backlash. Word is that supporters of the Islington One would invite their martyr to rallies outside the security zone: meaning most of the seaside city, including bars and pubs.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

Ruffled ermine in the Lords. Suspicious peers opened with trepidation emails with the subject line, “end corporal punishment: high-level events”, after security warnings about spammers. One baron wondered whether some colleagues were disappointed the invitation concerned a noble cause rather than a campaign to ban the rich and influential from illicit spanking dinners.

Matt Hancock’s entanglement in the Cameron-Greensill scandal isn’t keeping Johnson awake at night. Every crisis is an opportunity for a chancer, and moving Hancock from health will now be easier in the coming months. Whips report that an ambitious 2019 intake seeking preferment is transparently keen to do the PM’s bidding.

This article appears in the 21 Apr 2021 issue of the New Statesman, The unlikely radical