Commons Confidential: A new home for the Raabot

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Boris Johnson’s chief propagandist Lee Cain, who swapped dressing as a Mirror chicken for a golden egg from his new master, was spitting feathers the day the Conservative campaign disintegrated. Insensitive Johnson put an ITV reporter’s phone in his pocket to avoid seeing a photo of a young boy lying on a hospital floor; there was a swift disproving of Tory lies claiming a Labour protester punched one of Matt Hancock’s team; plus another leaked document proving the blond ego is telling Brexit porkies. Cain was losing control. Fibs always come home to roost.

Labour comrades speculate that should Jeremy Corbyn lose and fall on his sword, the National Executive Committee would use its power to appoint an acting leader by mandating John McDonnell to oversee a postmortem, entrench the left and elect a successor. That’s when the fun begins. Mac the Knife favours protégé Rebecca Long-Bailey. Many of Corbyn’s camp prefer Laura Pidcock. Angela Rayner and Emily Thornberry fancy their chances. So too does Keir Starmer, with Rayner his deputy in an early bid for “dream ticket” designation. Corbyn’s turbulent reign could quickly appear to have been a period of relative calm.

Within the space of two hours in London clubland, at the height of the campaign, a thirsty snout spotted David Lidington in the Athenaeum, Jeremy Hunt in Brown’s and Philip Hammond sauntering along Haymarket. It’s said of Johnson that those who know him best also loathe him most. Tories who once sat around the cabinet table with the lying blond weren’t breaking their backs to secure his Downing Street return.

The Conservative Club in the Esher and Walton constituency that Raab C Brexit was defending is up for sale. The two-storey building in East Molesey with snooker room and dance-floor is yours for £1m. Potential alternative use is flagged in the sales pitch. By the time of reading, you’ll know if it’s to be converted into a Liberal Club.

Struggling Jo Swinson claiming she was advised to show more cleavage to boost support prompted a contact to recall a recent meeting in Twickenham with Vince Cable, her predecessor as leader. As far as I’m aware he was never urged to display chest hair but my snout giggled that the elderly sage nodded off during their chat. Swinson’s staff, by the way, accuse her of rudeness. Maybe that’s why kindly Saint Vince has little time during waking hours for his successor.

Onetime Labour minister Gisela Stuart’s endorsement of Boris Johnson and the Tories to get Brexit done triggered a Whitehall informant to whisper an eye should be kept on the honours list. Treachery pays in politics when a blue devil rewards followers.

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 13 December 2019 issue of the New Statesman, Christmas special