Word in Westminster: Kissing Bojo
The latest Commons gossip from Emilio Casalicchio
Top Tory MP Andrew Mitchell was taken aback by the concern for Britain around the world as it continues to navigate the Brexit mess. During a recent visit to Africa, he was approached by a local presidential candidate to discuss the matter. His country had seen more than three million people killed by war and disease, with swathes of the population suffering from malnutrition. Most girls do not go to school there, and corruption and medieval illnesses are rampant. Putting an arm round Mitchell’s shoulder, the candidate asked: “What on earth is going on in your poor country?”
There was widespread outpouring of support for Chris Bryant after he revealed he had a stage three melanoma. The first MP to text the Labour backbencher was Michael Gove. But the biggest surprise came from Chris Grayling, who embraced Bryant when they crossed paths in parliament. It was “a bit disturbing”, the Labour MP told The House this week. Oh, to be wrapped up in those big arms.
Unlikely to stand at the next election, newly independent MP Nick Boles is starting to think about his next move. Could he be off to the House of Lords? “Never, never, never,” he told The House this week. What about the Speakership when that comes free? “Oh god,” he exclaimed. “No.” With no plans to re-join the Tories or team up with the T.I.G, Boles looks set to depart frontline politics. “I’ve had a decent run. This would probably be the last act.”
Boles will no doubt be missed as one of the most respected political operators in Westminster. One MP recently revealed one of his tactics of persuasion to The House. She and the Grantham and Stamford MP cut a deal during the indicative votes process whereby he would vote for a confirmatory Brexit referendum and she would vote for the Customs 2.0 plan. “We shook on it and he planted a smacker on me!” she said. “And he did actually vote for it too – I thought he might not honour the deal, but he did.”
Another MP enjoying a big kiss over the recess was Will Quince. Newly re-appointed to the frontbench as a work and pensions minister, the Colchester MP visited Dedham Therapy Farm where he met BoJo the Shetland pony. Quince tweeted a snap of himself smooching with the tousle-haired horse – prompting followers to quip that the animal would make a better PM than its namesake.