Commons Confidential: Theresa May in the soup queue

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Short of wearing a gilet jaune and parading around with a “Look At Me” sign, Dominic Cummings couldn’t have drawn more attention to himself in Manchester. Downing Street’s stand-in for Benedict Cumberbatch is enjoying his 15 minutes. The scrum of photographers following him at the Tory show rivalled the pack trailing his line manager Boris Johnson. A snout spotted Cummings sitting in first class on the train. I guess that’s how a privately educated Oxbridge anti-elitist married to an heiress with a castle in the family believes you meet ordinary people outside the M25.

Johnson stuttered into Greek while discussing his Spartans, the Tory headbanger ERG Brextremists. My monoglot snout from the English Home Counties whispered that the jumble of noises was the most sense the subdued Prime Minister had uttered all week.

Back to photographers, and during Johnson’s visit to Manchester General Hospital for TV news, the trailing pursuing pack claimed the PM was deliberately taken to areas with seriously ill patients. Omar Salem has put Tory spinners on red alert. The bedridden can’t walk out in protest and lack the strength to harangue an NHS squeezer.

The latest wicked whisper on Labour’s unofficial leadership contest is that a voice coach declined to help Rebecca Long-Bailey leave Mrs Merton behind. Declaring a conflict of interest, the woman admitted Keir Starmer was already a client. Talking proper is the new authentic.

Pot and kettle but the group Stop Climate Chaos Scotland is £500 up from the Scottish Daily Mail thanks to Labour MSP and environment spokesman Claudia Beamish. She demanded the donation and an apology after the paper falsely claimed she flew from her party’s Brighton conference to Holyrood for a green debate. The rag jumped to the wrong conclusion when Beamish complained the sleeper was too expensive. She went by daytime train. Talk about the wrong track.

Solidarity with Nick Robinson after a middle-aged woman snarled “shame on you, you’re Nazi collaborators” at the Today presenter outside the BBC’s Millbank office. “How dare you say that to the grandson of German Jews,” replied Robbo with commendable restraint. Let’s hope the corporation’s thought police don’t deem his an unacceptable opinion à la Naga Munchetty.

Theresa May cut a friendless figure queuing alone for soup in Portcullis House. Only a few months ago she would’ve been surrounded by advisers. There’s nothing as ex as an ex-PM in Westminster. It’s why they quit politics.

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 02 October 2019 issue of the New Statesman, The Brexit revolutionaries

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