Commons Confidential: Rory’s lucky escape from the Lib Dems

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster. 

NS

Sign Up

Get the New Statesman's Morning Call email.

Boy Scout-ish Rory Stewart would be fighting a very different leadership election had the wannabe Tory prime minister accepted a Cumbrian neighbour’s offer. The Penrith MP and International Development Secretary considered, insists an impeccably informed snout, an approach from Tim Farron to join the Liberal Democrats before the 2017 general election. Stewart agreed to give the proposition from the yellow peril’s then leader some thought before politely declining. Stewart must kick himself every day that he’s in the cabinet with a chance – admittedly slim – of No 10 when a different call could’ve put him in the running to head 11 MPs. 

Progressive MPs complained that The Jeremy Kyle Show exploiting the vulnerable was useful propaganda for Tory austerity divide-and-rule welfare cuts. The Brextremist hard-right courted the show’s £2m-a-year host before the 2016 Europe referendum. Bad Boy of Brexit Arron Banks claims in his vainglorious diary that the TV tormentor agreed to compere a Brexit pop concert before a boycott forced it to be pulled. Banks boasts: “Good news – Jeremy Kyle thinks he might be available to host Bpop Live. He’s also quite cheap. He got back to us saying he’d do it for £5k.” The fee, by the way, was equivalent to 63 weeks of Universal Credit.

Max “son of Oswald” Mosley raised eyebrows sitting in the front row of Tom Watson’s John Smith lecture. Mosley Junior has been a party member for 25 years with a short break during Blair’s Iraq War. Cue more raised eyebrows.

Train drivers’ trade union Aslef traditionally thanks guest speakers with a commemorative plate or model locomotive, but general secretary Mick Whelan presented Jeremy Corbyn with a pair of tools for his allotment. “I enjoy gardening,” mused the Labour  leader, “and whenever I plant a cabbage I shall think of Aslef.” Wise to avoid Brussels sprouts when Aslef is one of the few Brexit unions.

Old fogey Jacob Rees-Mogg’s ears must be burning as disloyal colleagues enjoy scathing reviews of the smug toff’s mocked essays on eminent Victorians. “He’s a poor advert for Eton and Oxford,” sneered a state-school Tory. Labour’s Stephen Pound asked: “How could Moggy get the 19th century so wrong? I thought this book was an autobiography.”

An eye-witness recalls watching a ruddy-faced lord flee with tail between his legs from a soirée after joking about suicide. First a mother told the insensitive peer that it was unfunny when her son tried to take his life, then a second woman informed the peer her husband had killed himself. The ermined oaf is lucky the pair don’t wish him publicly humiliated.

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 24 May 2019 issue of the New Statesman, The Brexit earthquake