Commons Confidential: Kate Hoey counts the cost of Farage

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Colchester’s cocky Tory Will Quince was close to talking himself out of a job as a Department for Work and Pensions minister for cuts. My aghast snout tuts that only hours before the call to join Theresa May’s government of the living dead, the disloyal whippersnapper was noisily bad-mouthing the Prime Minister to backbench colleagues within earshot of appreciative Labour MPs. One Tory countered that fickleness is a passport to the cabinet these days. Michael Gove has built a career on back-stabbing.

Nigel Farage has cost Kate Hoey her position as parliamentary chair of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU). The Labour Brextremist and Vauxhall MP agreed to quit after the union objected to her sharing a platform with the purple Thatcherite in London. FBU general secretary Matt Wrack complained that Farage’s Leave means Leave mob are right-wing, anti-union Tories and that their flute band paraded the US Confederate flag – “a symbol of slavery, racism and lynching”. Wrack’s wrathful email concluded: “The day ended with groups of fascists threatening, abusing and assaulting media workers (also trade union members).” Best buddy Nige has burned Hoey’s union bridges.

“As Chairman of the Political Committee of the Carlton Club, I am writing to invite you to speak at a supper hosted by the committee in May, June or July,” typed Andrea Leadsom’s PPS Victoria Prentis. “I know members and their guests would be fascinated to hear you [sic] take on the present turbulent state of UK politics…” Really? The personal request to address the blue brigade in the snooty Tory hangout surprised gangly red Alf Dubs. Brrrng. Brrrng. “Hello, Labour peer Alf Dubs here. Why do you want me?” Silence. “Umm, err, ahh, so you’re not Lord Dobbs?” The Tory peer and author’s most famous character could have replied she might think that but he couldn’t possibly comment.

Keighley MP John Grogan told the Yorkshire Trades Union Congress of a backhanded request. “A lad wrote to me asking to be my parliamentary intern,” recalled the Labour retread. “He said ‘you are not my first choice, my first choice is Richard Burgon because he has a great future’.” Richard who? Grogan had so little expectation of winning in 2017 he’d booked tickets to watch cricket in Leeds the day after polling. His cheeky inquirer from Hull didn’t get to bat or bowl in Westminster.

Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May’s Brexit talks prompted Tory Brextremist Nigel Evans to ask Labour’s Dennis Skinner if he could sit next to him in the House of Commons. Rueful Evans admitted it was a brutal “no” from the Beast.

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 12 April 2019 issue of the New Statesman, System failure