Commons Confidential: Gove’s unlikely comrade

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Unhappy mutterings are growing into a din as Tory MPs scream that the embrace of “superb” Ukip members by Brandon Lewis is ultimately selfish. The Conservative chair’s own majority in Great Yarmouth nudges 8,000 thanks to the purple peril’s collapse, while seven defecting Kipper councillors catapulted the Tories to largest group on the borough council. “My local party was detoxified when the most poisonous members left,” grumbled a dejected Westminster dissident, “and we’ll destroy ourselves from within by inviting reinfection of the Tory body.” Brexit sugar daddy Arron “Ronski” Banks and sidekick Andy Wigmore’s Ukip wave should crash on Great Yarmouth’s shore for a warm Conservative welcome.

Revolting Labour MPs are boycotting this month’s party conference in Liverpool. Stayaways don’t forgive or forget last year’s relegation to the hall’s balcony. Refuseniks predict only happy-clappy Corbynistas and naive newbies will attend. My informant totted up the cost of pass, hotel, travel, meals and drinks as close to £1,000. “That’s a lot of money to pay to go to work to be shouted at,” she moaned. Humdrum constituency tasks will be
top priorities in the last week of September.

Brexit-bashing Best for Britain’s £200,000 “emergency stop button” campaign could’ve been much worse. Inbred adland types also suggested depicting Theresa May and Jacob Rees-Mogg in boxing gloves. No, me neither.

Michael Gove likes a bit of Labour rough. The twee Tory greenie told a surprised colleague that his favourite opposition MP is former coal miner Ian Lavery. Perhaps it was the Labour chair’s demolition of Gove’s worst friend Boris Johnson during last year’s election campaign – BBC coverage of hard-nosed Lavers looming over a visibly deflating windbag went viral. Gove’s unlikely to be Lavery’s Tory preference. The trade unionist has accused his admirer of salivating over Brexit opportunities to strip job rights.

The Goulash co-op cooking up a reopening of London’s shut Gay Hussar is appealing for fresh investors to provide lefties with somewhere in Soho to eat, drink and plot. Gourmet socialists require a restaurant to hang the photographs bought from the old place’s owners for a token £250. Nye Bevan’s language of priorities is the religion of lunching in these divisive times.

Slapping on a coat of paint and rechristening the Sports and Social Club drinking den in the bowels of parliament the Woolsack is the worst renaming since the DTI was temporarily PENIS (Department of Productivity, Energy, Industry and Science), then BIS, then BEIS. Regulars call it the Ballsack.

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 05 September 2018 issue of the New Statesman, The hard man of the Left