Commons Confidential: David Davis’s ex-aide Wacko Jacko is back. And it’s bad news for May

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Womenswear expert Boris Johnson had chilly hacks cooing when he played teaboy outside his country bolthole last weekend. Back in Westminster, Tory toilers were discombobulated by his largesse. Even at the height of his leadership delusions, colleagues grumble, “chicken feed” Johnson would never knowingly get a round in. One snout is still scarred by a brief encounter with the Eton mess. Interning at the Spectator in the early Noughties, the bushy-tailed ingénu got a fistful of slummy and a demand for a latte. So careful was Johnson’s attention to detail that the young keeno had to subsidise him and go thirsty. “I’m now a Spad,” the victim reflects, “and Boris still owes me 75p.” If HM Government calls in this debt, it could spark a Tory civil war.

The teething troubles of would-be Labour splitters are seldom far from the papers – but those of one Corbyn loyalist are proving just as expensive as a new centrist party. Angela Rayner, the pugnacious shadow education secretary, moaned to pals on Facebook last week that an unplanned trip to the emergency dentist after an infection had landed her with a hefty £695 bill for a new crown. Top of the agenda for the next Labour government? A Tooth and Reconciliation Commission.

There’s no such thing as recess for Leave’s paramilitary wing. With parliament deserted but for skiving researchers, Tory plotters are more conspicuous than ever. The sight of John Redwood and boring Bill Cash chinwagging in Portcullis House deep into August won’t worry No 10. But the sight of one notorious troublemaker will. Spotted moonwalking through a Commons corridor recently was Stewart Jackson, formerly cornerman to David Davis at the Brexit department. That the man some know as Wacko Jacko is back on the scene bodes ill for Theresa May. On Brexit, Jacko’s message to fellow Eurosceptics is clear: “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” – even if it means ditching the PM.

The antics of a small coterie of Tory headbangers are keeping MPs’ phones pinging. Colleagues whine that Nadine Dorries’s WhatsApp rabble-rousing hardly ever stops. The latest target of her ire? Polling that warned up to 25 blue marginals could turn red if the Tories softened Brexit. Mad Nad blithely dismissed the stats as fake news. Jittery colleagues who don’t share her 20,983 majority are less sure.

Laugh-a-minute Ukip leader Gerard Batten has a new nickname: the Dementor. What does the culture warrior have in common with a Harry Potter villain? “He works really hard,” a veteran Kipper observes, “but sucks all the energy out of a room.” Friends insist he’s alt-right really.

Patrick Maguire is the New Statesman's political correspondent. 

This article first appeared in the 17 August 2018 issue of the New Statesman, The inside story of Mossad