Commons confidential: Corbyn’s feuding comrades

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Combatants in an increasingly hostile civil war within Jeremy Corbyn’s camp no longer conceal bitter enmities. One BBC hack was left open-mouthed when a chat with Seumas Milne was interrupted by a passing Diane Abbott growling “Don’t believe a word he says”, the shadow home secretary character-assassinating a stunned director of strategy. The increasingly fraught tug of love between rival disciples over Comrade Corbyn is a gift to critical Labour MPs. The revolution’s children are devouring each other.

Posh philanderer Boris Johnson’s refusal – or inability? – to name all his offspring would see the bed-hopper denounced as feckless and feral by snobby Tories if he lived on a council estate rather than packing tennis racquets to spend weekends on the Chequers country estate. Ealing lip Stephen Pound was overheard inquiring, during a Speaker’s House shindig for single parents, “Why isn’t Boris Johnson here?” Restaurant-trashing Buller Boys believe that they can buy their way out of responsibility for life.

Iron man Jeremy Corbyn’s Arnie Schwarzenegger routine to prove his fitness to govern isn’t going unnoticed. The track-suited septuagenarian was, he said, hailed on a jog by an Islington constituent with a shout of “Fucking hell Jeremy, you’re supposed to be dead from a heart attack.” The yes-no-yes saga over Corbyn going to this Saturday’s Durham Miners’ Gala concluded with the Dear Leader agreeing to address the northern white working class masses for a fourth consecutive year. Miliband did it once, Blair and Brown not at all.

Commons Speaker John Bercow, by the way, privately consented to speak if asked to the Durham “Big Meeting”, but formal invitation came there none. Brother Bercow waving at the crowds from the Royal County Hotel’s balcony alongside “Red Len” McCluskey, Corbyn and a politburo of Tory hate figures could’ve triggered a wave of Conservative heart attack by-elections. Maybe next year?

As little love was lost between exiting Brexit chief negotiator Olly Robbins and his former political master, David Davis, as was between ambassador Kim Darroch and Donald Trump. Intimates of Robbins claim he stood outside a Whitehall watering hole with a bottle of champagne after Davis resigned, yearning to be papped by a passing snapper. Sir Humphrey’s anonymity proved a disappointing cloak of invisibility.

Should the ballot for PM end  in a tie, a Tory MP suggested that the casting vote should go to Richard Ratcliffe, husband of jailed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. The Foreign Secretary might agree, unlike his blundering predecessor. 

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 July 2019 issue of the New Statesman, The state we’re in