And the Parliamentary Dog Days Are Over mdi-fullscreen

It was 11.59 and – waiting, waiting, waiting for a pause in the proceedings, our PM was held at the side of the Speaker’s chair, like a greyhound in the slips. It’s the dog day of the session, and your sketch writer couldn’t help wonder if the chief whip would give his leader the expert twist that racing handlers administer near the base of the tail, to give their dog a yelping start to the race. Something must have happened because it was an unusually lively half hour.

Starting from the bottom, Mark Francois of the Defence Select Committee launched a punitive attack on the “silly” and “naïve” chair of his committee. “I was astounded to see a statement from our chairman,” he began. Was the Defence committee one of those chaired by a Putin-appeasing opposition member? No, actually, by Tobias Ellwood, the amiable Tim-but-Dim who won the chair by the circuitous route of tackling an armed terrorist on the estate. He has advocated “talking to the Taliban”. As his proposal was more conciliatory than he ever made about “talking to the European Research Group” (of which Francois is a leading leper) he provoked this remarkable – unprecedented – crowd-pleasing – intra-party attack on the floor of the House. Ellwood’s proposal “was not made in our name” Francois said, and asked the PM to make clear it wasn’t in his name either. Rishi’s diplomatic skills enabled him to make clear no such thing.

In further EU news, Labour’s Old Abraham, Barry Sheerman, rose to grieve at the grave of the 2016 referendum. He shook his withering fist at the sky and called down justice on the heads of the wicked. Wrath failed to appear. Even God pretends he can’t hear Old Abraham. Rishi, laughingly, said, “Get over it, you booby, it’s ancient history and no one cares what you think, anyway.” Such was the tune, the words may have differed.

Our principals, fresh from a two-week absence, put on a dancing display, each taking turns to lead.

Keir paraded his fiscal probity like Alicia Kearnes doing Gay Rights. What merriment he caused with his punchline “the Tories’ Magic Money Tree”, and then again with the claim that he would pay for Labour’s commitments with the £3bn raised from taxing non-doms (it will actually pay for a packet of Players).

Rishi got off one of his scripted zingers – while everyone should study maths til they are 18, Starmer made “a very strong case for studying maths to 61”. That Starmer was only 60 was a matter of arithmetic rather than maths, but that may be too fine a point for the floor of the House.

Keir’s bit on the Tories’ 40 new hospitals (“There aren’t 40, they’re not new and some of them aren’t hospitals”) recalled the best of William Hague in opposition (that went as well as it could). But Rishi probably won on the NHS by making the criminal delinquencies of that genocidal institution all about the medics on strike. The 18-month waiting lists are almost down to zero, he said. Personally, I’d keep quiet about that, but his backbenches seemed to like it very much.

Now that Ben Wallace is off, it’s very hard to imagine anyone on the front bench doing better than Rishi Sunak. Grant the grinning chimp? The beguiling Barbie? I wonder if Hilary Benn could be interested – the Tories are increasingly massing on his political borders?


You may have seen that Nigel Farage had his Coutts bank account suspended and has discovered that it was to do with his politics – which, the bank said, weren’t in line with their values. Farage’s Brexit rhetoric was contrary to their core value of “inclusion”. Coutts is actually well known for its inclusivity. Every Pride-supporting, Remain-voting, Climate Activist with a million pounds to deposit is guaranteed an account. The only organisations more inclusive are said to be Moscow’s Politburo and the Vatican’s College of Cardinals.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, le grand horizontal, became vertical and gave the bank a gentle seeing to. With ancestral weariness he offered the view that a person’s political views – however tiresome – or taaarsm – shouldn’t disqualify them for a bank account. David Davis asked that banks be required to render up a list of accounts that had been terminated in recent years. That list will cause a social riot. It will never be demanded.

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