Commons Confidential: Leadsom for leader — the sequel

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Ministers are resigning faster than Theresa May can replace them but one Tory is desperate for a job from the Prime Minister. Lumber forward lanky dullard Daniel Kawczynski, a 6ft 8in physical giant and intellectual pygmy. The dishonourable Brexiteer MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, humiliatingly mocked for wrongly asserting that the UK received no aid from the 1948 US Marshall Plan, when $3bn made this country the biggest recipient, yearns to be post-Brexit Britain’s Polish ambassador. Conservative snouts giggle that the Warsaw-born right-whinger has lobbied influential MPs and ministers. Politics is bizarre but Kawczynski would be the cherry on top of the fruitcake. “For one so tall much goes over his head,” mused the contemptuous Tory informant.

Up goes the Lexit shout “what about Mansfield?” on Labour’s shadow cabinet Brexit subcommittee whenever championing a second referendum is proposed privately by Keir Starmer, John McDonnell or Emily Thornberry. So Amber Rudd, defending her wafer-thin 346 majority in Hastings, can relax. The battle Corbyn’s circle is fighting is in the Nottinghamshire market town, shaping policies by how it believes they’d go down in a seat the Tories snatched by 1,057 votes in 2017. This is personal. Comrade Corbyn took Manfield’s loose cannon Ben Bradley to the defamation cleaners over the risible smear that Jezza passed information on to a Cold War Czech spy.

Evidently May’s former Brextremist secretary Dominic Raab is braced for an early general election. The MP for pro-Remain Esher and Walton’s shrill talk in Thames Ditton’s Albany pub constantly interrupted my acquaintance’s Friday lunch on a nearby table. Raab fancies himself as May’s successor and will be disheartened that punchy quitter Andrea Leadsom’s spats with chief commoner John Bercow are attracting admirers on the Tory benches. The former leadership candidate is predicted to be back in the mix. Unless she bangs on again about the centrality of motherhood, obvs.

The suspension of a strike by PCS security guards in parliament avoided brothers Corbyn and McDonnell crossing a picket line for Prime Minister’s Questions. Union general secretary Mark Serwotka granted special dispensation provided they posed for photos with strikers. Party chair Ian Lavery, a former National Union of Mineworkers leader and picket during the great 1984-85 miners’ strike, vowed he wouldn’t cross under any circumstances. Cancelling the walkout required him to go into Westminster. Lavery was overheard groaning he’d planned to wash his floors. Dirty business, industrial disputes.

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 29 March 2019 issue of the New Statesman, Guilty

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