Commons Confidential: Exploding Boris’s ego

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The hereditary MP Ian Paisley, Jr – the Tory-supporting Democratic Unionist mini-me handed down his Bible-bashing father’s name and North Antrim seat – enjoys a sharp sense of humour. He was overheard by my snout quipping at a cross-party dinner, “People say I’m an Orangeman. I’m not an Orangeman. I’m a Lemonman. We’re much more bitter.”

His dad transitioned from an uncompromising “no surrender” hardliner into one of the “Chuckle Brothers” with Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness. Maybe a humour gene was passed on in the son’s DNA and one day he’ll learn to love Jeremy Corbyn. Or maybe not.

The Blond Ambition Boris Johnson bumbled on to the Commons terrace, schmoozing Tory MPs for votes when Theresa May is dumped. But it didn’t go as smoothly as the Foreign Secretary intended. While the bag carrier Conor Burns was begging uninterested backbenchers to fawn over the floppy-haired ego while sipping warm Prosecco, Vicky Foxcroft, Labour’s Deptford Depth Charge, exploded Johnson’s pomposity. Wandering over faux-bemused, she sneered, “I know you, don’t I? Remind me who you are.” Johnson ummed and ahhed until he was rescued by Conservatives suppressing sniggers.

Rather unkindly, the Daily Mail suggested that Tommy “Two Dinners” Watson had blocked Pippa Middleton’s view of the tennis in Wimbledon’s royal box. The real scandal was the Labour deputy leader’s failure to notice that the much-photographed woman sitting behind him was the derrière queen. On the upside, surely that’s worth a Kensington Palace dinner invitation from an appreciative Kate, the socialite’s less famous sister.

The twinkle-toed Vince Cable’s impending coronation has forced the Lib Dems’ last hope to pull out of an autumn ballroom dancing competition in Blackpool. No greater sacrifice can the leader of a minor party make than to cancel his sashay for the sake of a hopeless cause.

When the Tory cad James Gray emailed MPs to announce that he wouldn’t stand against Julian Lewis for the defence committee chair, it triggered a barrage of abuse. One recipient screamed, “As if I ever would vote for Gray, the pompous old hypocrite.”

The word in Westminster is that John McDonnell has confessed to the Kensington MP, Emma Dent Coad, that he “got carried away” when he claimed the Grenfell Tower’s tenants were “murdered by political decisions”. The semi-apology’s gone down well in Labour ranks.

Para Dan Jarvis has declined a reshuffle job on Jeremy Corbyn’s front bench. Postings are for the few, not the many.

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.

This article appears in the 13 July 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The Maybot malfunctions