HENRY DEEDES: Prime Minister in aggressive swingball game with MPsMay 2, 2019
HENRY DEEDES: Multi-tasking Prime Minister winced as if she were having a tooth extracted during an aggressive swingball game with MPs
Well that was quite the afternoon for the Prime Minister. Her first PMQs in over three weeks. Sacking her Defence Secretary. Then if that wasn’t enough multi-tasking for one day, there was the no-small matter of an appearance before the Commons Liaison Committee.
Here are the chairmen of the various select committees on one panel, all of them puffed-up, self-important windbags in love with their own voices and itching to give the PM a bloody hooter in front of the cameras.
Ask a former Prime Minister what was worst about the job and they’ll give a syrupy response about difficult budget cuts or missing family events. No doubt this is partly true. But given a dose of truth serum, I’d wager most would admit it was having to face these preening boobies three times a year.
Prime Minister Theresa May appeared for 90 minutes before the Commons Liaison Committee today
Yesterday, Mrs May sat for 90 minutes, enduring what at times felt like an aggressive game of swingball. All the while, knowledge that she was about to sack one of her most senior ministers, Gavin Williamson over the recent Huawei leak, was presumably swirling around her head.
A handful of the PM’s nemeses perched in front of her. Remainers on one side: Sarah Wollaston (Change UK – Totnes), Yvette Cooper (Lab – Pontefract). Hardcore knights of the Brexit table on t’other: Sir Bernard Jenkin (Con – North Essex), Sir Bill Cash (Con – Stone).
Sir Bernard wasn’t happy. He was still furious about the decision to seek a Brexit extension. Mrs May pointed out Parliament had voted for her to do so. ‘But you were not obliged to,’ he snapped. For a moment I thought little Sir Bernard’s Penfold glasses were going to steam up.
She was faced by several MPs, before later sacking her Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson
Sir Bill was also in customary charm mode. ‘When I called on you to resign in the House…’ he began. He was still scathing over Mrs May’s Brexit deal, claiming it would cause a ‘castration’ of the House of Commons. Gadzooks! Mrs May shot Sir Bore that Medusa-like stare she usually reserves for SNP leader Ian Blackford whom she dislikes more than socialising.Pixie-like Yvette had the PM in a tangle over which sort of tariff deals she would be seeking with the EU. She even managed a decent barb, remarking to Mrs May: ‘Your definition of compromise seems to be everyone else saying you were right.’ Mrs May winced as though in the advanced stage of tooth extraction.
Sarah Wollaston predictably took the opportunity to demand a People’s Vote (yawn). ‘I think the public would just like us to get on with it,’ the PM observed. ‘I think that’s probably debatable,’ sighed ex-GP Wollaston, pulling a ‘there there, dear’ face which she presumably honed and perfected on her former patients.
Prime Minister’s Questions earlier should have been a zinger. Both the PM and her opposite number had awoken to unwelcome headlines. Mrs May, as this newspaper reported, recently dined with the wife of a gamey Russian billionaire.
Mr Corbyn, meanwhile, was revealed to have written the preface to an odious-sounding book peddling anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. Both stories were potential fireworks. Big, fat Roman candles just asking to be lit and sent fizzing around the chamber. Number of questions tabled on either subject? Zero. Not a single one. With backroom Brexit talks still ongoing, the two sides chose to play out another dead rubber. It was gloopy viewing.
Corbyn once again chose to talk about social problems. Sir Vince Cable (Lib Dem – Twickenham) blathered on about Heathrow’s third runway. Ex-arts minister Ed Vaizey (Con – Wantage) asked a greaser’s question about education. Ed looking for another job? He’s finally shaved off his silly beard if that’s any guide.
It was left to ex-army officer Tom Tugendhat (Con – Tonbridge and Malling) to make the most pointed intervention of the afternoon when he attacked the Government for ignoring the US’s advice in awarding the 5G contract to the aforementioned Huawei. Mrs May said she had taken a ‘hard-headed’ approach to the decision. ‘Block-headed’ might be more the mots justes, according to our allies.
Toward the end of the session, Liz McInnes (Lab – Heywood and Middleton) asked an important question about smear tests. Almost as one, a large proportion of elderly male members from around the House decided this was a decent juncture to adjourn for an early lunch.
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