The amiable young officer from Queensland regulating entry to Committee Room 14 asked if HM’s Press Corps had any questions. “No! We’ve done leadership announcements before,” a sketch-writer said. “Many, many times before.”
Would this be the last for a while? Not if Penny had made the – she’s quit. Word went down the line sparking a wildfire competition. Penny’s dropped. Penniless. Penny’s in heaven. Penny’s Lame.
MPs made a late entry to the big room. Graham Brady and the other top dogs entered through the upper entrance and the gathering stilled. He spoke. “As the Returning Officer in the leadership election, we have received one nomination.” The room rumbled so loudly you couldn’t hear who had won. It had to be inferred.
The relief was palpable. The horror was over. Just in time for the new horror. Mark Francois was up the back sat next to Chris Grayling. The Francois face repays study. He is a spokesman for the ERG (the group that earlier today couldn’t decide whom to support, Rishi or Penny). When asked, ‘Can you trust Rishi?” He created in a micro-expression a complicated smile. I took that as a No.
Was that hasty?
He was texting someone, presumably about the result. We students of those lovely features observed his lower lip forcing its way up under the upper. He chewed, he ground his teeth, he pushed out his chin. It was not the face of a happy man.
When Rishi gave his speech to his MPs half an hour later, they expressed no such reservations. The banging on the furniture had to be heard to be believed. “Panel beaters,” an officer said. It was the sound of relief. But then, recalling the expressive features of the ERG, there is doubtless some drama left for after the interval.