Word in Westminster: Rat race

Posted On: 
10th May 2019

The latest Commons gossip from Emilio Casalicchio

Tory whips are competing to see who can trap the most rodents
Credit: 
PA Images

The Parliamentary mouse problem in the Tory whips office has become so bad that two of the whips have taken matters into their own hands and brought in their own traps. The pair are competing to see who can nab the most rodents. Those who thought the Tories were trying to be more cuddly on animal welfare were sorely mistaken.

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Former Downing Street spinner Katie Perrior was rather cutting about her old boss Theresa May when she addressed a private relaunch of the networking group for Tories who work in public affairs this week. She said the current No 10 operation was “the worst in history”, which is quite a feat. Others in the room dispute the account from a House Mag mole, and insist Perrior merely agreed with a questioner that it could be deemed the worst in history but that it was too easy to criticise from outside.

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MPs under the cosh of Brexit stress may have been calmed by the dulcet tones of an all-female Parliamentary string quartet practising for their debut gig in Speaker’s House. The group – which includes Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire on the cello – is expected to be playing Mozart, Schubert and Debussy at their 2 July lunchtime performance. The House Mag is assured that rehearsals have been taking place late in the evening to avoid the disturbance of any parliamentary business.

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The Brexit Party has surprised everybody with quite how meteoric its rise has been – even those behind the outfit. Long-suffering former Ukip spinner Gawain Towler – who has been re-recruited by his old boss Nigel Farage – has been so rushed off his feet running up and down the country he hasn’t yet had time to visit the party HQ to sign his new work contract. Hacks always knew getting Brexit done was more than just a job for Towler.

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Labour bosses were dealt a blow this week when HQ staff voted to reject the latest pay offer in a long-running dispute. It means workers could well be on course for strike action. One is said to have told the meeting: “We’re supposed to be the f*****g Labour party.” All eyes will turn to Jeremy Corbyn – who has a proud record of backing every strike action under the sun.

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Much mirth in the Commons on Wednesday when SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford opened his PMQs question by congratulating the Duke and Duchess of Wessex (rather than Sussex) on their newborn… before quickly correcting himself. Especially embarrassing for the SNP since the baby could have assumed the title of the Earl of Dumbarton.