Commons Confidential: The Eurosceptic hackocracy

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Diplomacy and willpower are why Theresa May merely grimaces rather than faints when kissed by Jean-Claude Juncker. His love of brandy and chain smoking are – how can this be phrased delicately – somewhat antisocial. My impeccable snout recalled that David Davis, when Brexit secretary, evaded close personal contact by grabbing the commission president firmly by the shoulders at arm’s length. Unsuspecting Juncker commented on the manliness of the former SAS reservist’s distant embrace. Failing to secure concessions isn’t the sole reason May never returns from Brussels smelling of roses.

Sheffield Hallam independent MP Jared O’Mara, who once labelled his critics “football hooligans who smell of processed meats”, blamed a slip in the shower for missing Brexit votes. That prompted the steel city’s Star newspaper to vox-pop locals. Up popped “constituent” Steve Wilson demanding the former Labour MP stand down to give voters a chance to elect someone else. By sheer coincidence, by-election-resistant Change UK MP Angela Smith, who also left Labour, is married to a Steve Wilson who sits on Sheffield council. Coincidence?

“Rory Stewart for PM” is Westminster’s most exclusive club. It has just one member: the Penrith MP himself. Nothing is more Tory than horse riding now that fox hunting is banned, so the prisons minister is burnishing his lustreless leadership credentials by dusting off his riding hat for an 18-mile “Reiver Ride” through his constituency in September. Two legs good, four legs better.

Twitter jockey Nicholas Soames was tickled by a meme of Speaker John Bercow calling the name of Labour MP Bambos Charalambous to the tune of Queen’s “Under Pressure”. So tickled, in fact, that the Tory thoroughbred informed the baffled Enfield Southgate MP that he would name his next horse after him. Charalambous should be relieved he saddled up in parliament only two years ago. Not so long ago an unmellowed Soames might’ve asked him to be his groom.

Ex-Tory MP Robert Haward, now a Tory peer, reminisces over how he was inadvertently outed to his parents by a paper. The rag reported he was with Ian McKellen, Michael Cashman and Boy George in the Commons gallery for a debate on the age of consent. Hayward Senior was unfazed, but begged his son never again to be mentioned in the same sentence as Boy George. Presumably the two thespians were an acceptable culture club.

Ex-Times and Guardian scribblers Michael Gove and Seumas Milne were, I gather, key conduits to initiate Tory-Labour Brexit talks. We live in a Eurosceptic hackocracy.

Kevin Maguire is the associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror

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 18 April 2019 issue of the New Statesman, Spring special