Commons Confidential: Red Ed’s alternative history

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Snouts are whispering crumbs from the joyless Tory-Labour Brexit talks, with Philip Hammond accused of looking down his nose at Labour’s team. My snout reports the Chancer of the Exchequer kicked a dropped biscuit under the Cabinet Office table and sneered that Jon Trickett could deal with it later. Haughty Hammond’s betrayal of frustration laced with snobbery suggests a blame game is being played to see who flounces out first.

Brextremist money-maker Nigel Farage was overheard proclaiming on his flight back to Britain from peddling porkies about Oldham to impressionable Americans that he’d met Steve Bannon. Trump’s preacher of hate failed to ignite his reactionary the Movement in the EU ahead of May’s European Parliament elections, but Breitbart brat Bannon still fancies himself as a global subversive. Equally intriguing are Tory murmurs that Farage’s publicy disgraced Bad Boys of Brexit, Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore, are privately assisting his Newkip Brexit Party.

It’s bad timing for Europeans that Best for Britain is shedding staff after billionaire campaigner George Soros’s Open Societies Foundation failed to renew its £400,000 funding. Seven of the outfit’s 20 toilers are gone or leaving. With Brexit stalled and the fresh referendum fight intensifying, an anguished Remainiac MP likened the job losses to Oliver Cromwell disbanding the New Model Army before the Civil War’s finale at the Battle of Naseby.

Rueful Ed Miliband mused how history would be different had he won the 2015 election. “If I was prime minister we wouldn’t have had the referendum,” he gloated, “and therefore we wouldn’t have wasted more than three years on the details of the customs union.” To invert a tweet by a disastrous Tory PM, the simple and inescapable choice four years ago was stability and strong government with Red Ed or chaos with David Cameron.

Dashing Johnny Mercer, a former army captain who once posed half-naked in a shower gel advert, doth protest too much. Sitting in the make-up chair before a BBC interview, the Tory MP was overheard insisting he disliked greasepaint. “Don’t worry, sir,” came the reassuring reply, “you don’t need much. You’ve already got a lot on.”

Arming parliamentarians feels unwise when MPs are blasting each other, yet Tory Old Etonian “Bungalow Bill” Wiggin is recruiting MPs for Lords vs Commons clay shooting on 12 July. What could possibly go wrong?

Change UK appearing in pollster shorthand as CHUK is wickedly close to Chuka as in Umunna. No wonder interim leader Heidi Allen miaows for the Tigger days.

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 03 May 2019 issue of the New Statesman, A very British scandal