Cummings’ Contempt for Collins

Vote Leave’s campaign director Dominic Cummings has refused to appear in front of the DCMS Select Committee next week. Committee chairman Damian Collins has taken umbrage at this and says he will therefore be reporting the matter to the House, presumably to try and get him adjudged to be in contempt of parliament.

It is for the House to decide whether a contempt has been committed and, if so, what punishment should be imposed. The process for raising a complaint of breach of privilege or contempt is, according to Erskine May, as follows:

  • A Member writes to the Speaker asking for a specific matter to be given precedence.
  • The Speaker announces in the House that he has agreed that the Member may raise that specific matter, and the day on which he will give the matter precedence.
  • The Member then tables a Motion on the Order Paper for that future day, as the first item of substantive business after Questions and Statements.
  • Such Motions usually take the form of a reference to the Committee on Standards and Privileges, which reports its conclusions to the House in a published Report with any recommendations for further action. But Motions may be tabled in other terms as well and, subject to the Chair’s selection of amendments for debate and decision, may be amended by the House.

The House’s power to punish non-MPs for contempt is untested in the modern age, it would probably fall foul of human rights legislation. In theory Cummings could be summonsed to the bar of the House to be reprimanded or  imprisoned. The House of Commons last used its power to fine in 1666…

Jezza’s New Definition of Madness

Albert Einstein defined madness as “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. Jeremy Corbyn today topped-off a staggeringly poor PMQs performance – naturally, in blindingly severe contrast to last week’s outing – by calling on the Prime Minister to resign. He screeched:

“If the prime minister cannot negotiate a good deal for Britain why doesn’t she step aside and let Labour negotiate… Step aside and make way for those who will.”

In October last year Jezza stood in exactly the same spot and wailed across the despatch box:

“Isn’t it the case that if the PM can’t lead, she should leave?”

Just three days before last year’s general election, when asked whether he would call on May to resign over police numbers, Corbyn replied:

“Indeed I would.”

The same month he said May must:

“Go and make way for a government that is truly representative of this country.”

Then in September he demanded of her:

 “For Britain’s sake pull yourself together or make way.”

Every few weeks, at an increasing frequency, perhaps altered by imperceptible changes in the earth’s magnetic field (observable only to Piers Corbyn) – or due to signal fluctuations received from the short wave radio housed in the attic of the Russian Embassy – Jezza’s behaviour suddenly enters an almost lycanthropic mode. In the dead of night he morphs into the ‘resign now’ monster, a humiliating Hyde to his bumbling Jekyll, an embarrassing form of political lunacy. At PMQs the mask slips and we see a lone oddball, repeatedly bashing his head against the proverbial brick wall, endlessly howling at the moon… 

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May Customs Union Gaffe

The PM’s spokesman quickly clarifies that she meant “future customs arrangement”, not “future customs union”. Phew!

PMQs: Who’s Asking The Questions

Oral Questions to the Prime Minister

Q1 Simon Hoare (North Dorset) If she will list her official engagements for Wednesday 16 May.

Q2 Jenny Chapman (Darlington)

Q3 Craig Tracey (North Warwickshire)

Q4 Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon)

Q5 Mrs Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

Q6 Mr Virendra Sharma (Ealing, Southall)

Q7 Teresa Pearce (Erith and Thamesmead)

Q8 Thelma Walker (Colne Valley)

Q9 Gordon Marsden (Blackpool South)

Q10 Maggie Throup (Erewash)

Q11 Sir Kevin Barron (Rother Valley)

Q12 Bob Blackman (Harrow East)

Q13 Dr David Drew (Stroud)

Q14 Ms Karen Buck (Westminster North)

Q15 Stephen Gethins (North East Fife)

Comments in the comments…

Bercow Insists He’s Staying

At business questions Tory MP James Duddridge asked the government whether there would be time for a debate on the qualities required in the next Speaker. Modest, calm, dignified, cool under pressure, punctual, that kind of thing…

Scandal-hit Bercow suggested he is staying put and couldn’t resist delivering a personal slap-down to Duddridge. He said:

“I very gently say to the Honurable Gentleman in terms which are very straightforward and which I know he will be fully able to understand… the Honourable Gentleman will recall I indicated my willingness to continue in the chair in June of last year…”

Things have somewhat changed since then, Mr Speaker.

295 MPs Who Tried to Muzzle the Press

This is the roll call of wrong ‘uns who tried to implement Leveson 2. Fortunately for the freedom of the press, they failed by nine votes.

Abbott, rh Ms Diane
Alexander, Heidi
Ali, Rushanara
Allin-Khan, Dr Rosena
Amesbury, Mike
Antoniazzi, Tonia
Ashworth, Jonathan
Austin, Ian
Bailey, Mr Adrian
Bardell, Hannah
Barron, rh Sir Kevin
Beckett, rh Margaret
Benn, rh Hilary
Berger, Luciana
Betts, Mr Clive
Black, Mhairi
Blackford, rh Ian

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Rarest of PMQs: Corbyn Wins, Speaker Cheered

A white peacock, Shakespeare’s signature in manuscript, the transition of Venus, pure platinum, the albino humpback whale, a Wagyu steak Big Mac, the first-contact of a lost tribe, a blue moon, the philosopher’s stone, blood type AB minus, the St. Francis Satyr butterfly, a complete copy of The Gutenberg Bible, the element astatine, a jeroboam of Château Mouton-Rothschild 1945, a twin tornado ripping across a golden plain of orchids illuminated by a double rainbow: all of them among the rarest occurrences or items found on this mad, spinning, Tory-run sphere we call home. Yet one phenomenon is rarer still…

It has been valued by Christie’s experts as beyond the sum of all currency currently in circulation – globally. It has been verified by the most expert lapidarists as less common than the rarest known gem. NASA scientists have placed it beyond technological understanding. A panel of the top surgeons concurred it lies beyond medical explanation. Philosophers and mystics place it beyond the reckoning of all human comprehension, beyond knowledge obtainable by the essence of the soul itself. What ever can it be? Jeremy Bernard Corbyn winning six nil at Prime Minister’s Questions, of course…

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MPs Cry For “More” Lindsay Hoyle

Let Bercow be in no doubt as to what the Commons thinks of him: MPs cried “more” as Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle stepped in for today’s PMQs. 43 days ’til Bercow promised to stand down…

Now Vaz Reports Bridgen to Standards Commissioner (Again)

Keith Vaz has reported Tory MP Andrew Bridgen to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards – again. Bridgen first complained to the Commissioner about Vaz’s conduct in September 2016 after the Labour grandee was the subject of an infamous newspaper expose. The Commissioner opened an inquiry which was suspended for months due to ‘health reasons’. Almost two years after the coke and rent boys shenanigans, Vaz is in the House the Commissioner’s probe is back on

At the time Vaz retaliated, complaining about Bridgen to the same watchdog, arguing that any investigation into his conduct was outside the Commissioner’s scope. The Commissioner rejected Vaz’s complaint…

Now Vaz has complained yet again, this time on the grounds that Bridgen has commented on Vaz’s case to the media. Bridgen tells Guido:

“Mr Vaz is clearly somewhat rattled.”

How long will it take the Commissioner to dismiss this one…

PMQs: Who’s Asking the Questions?

Oral Questions to the Prime Minister

Q1 Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) If she will list her official engagements for Wednesday 9 May.

Q2 Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith)

Q3 Hannah Bardell (Livingston)

Q4 Matt Western (Warwick and Leamington)

Q5 Matthew Pennycook (Greenwich and Woolwich)

Q6 Jeff Smith (Manchester, Withington)

Q7 Maria Caulfield (Lewes)

Q8 Bill Esterson (Sefton Central)

Q9 Holly Lynch (Halifax)

Q10 Jeremy Quin (Horsham)

Q11 Julian Sturdy (York Outer)

Q12 Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

Q13 Chris Ruane (Vale of Clwyd)

Q14 Mr Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland)

Q15 Melanie Onn (Great Grimsby)

Comments in the comments…

Bercow Welcomes Vaz Back From Illness

Good news for those concerned about the health of Keith Vaz, who has been missing from parliament after being declared ill, delaying the investigation into his coke and rent boys mishap indefinitely. Vazeline is back at work today. “It’s very good to welcome him back to the Chamber,” said his old friend and protector John Bercow…

Critiquing the Corbyn Clip Crap

Regular observers will have grown used to Jeremy Corbyn losing his marbles at Prime Minister’s Question Time – but never before have those marbles scattered so wildly across the chamber as they did today. Like a deranged late-career performance artist, Jezza wildly changed-up his style: no more the cunning ‘forget to ask the question entirely’ ploy, or that genius googly where he sits down mid-sentence. Today was altogether more cavemanlike, frankly more berserk – and more raw, more terrifying. Jezza used the good ol’ ‘flick and stick’: throw enough paint at the wall and some of it will cling…

‘But he’s doing it for the clips, it’s all for social media!’ says you, an in-the-know political insider. Save that fool-talk for your pathetic and ill-informed dinner parties. It’s quite straightforward: if you took an enormous sh*t-filled fire hose and sprayed its contents all over a blank canvas, you wouldn’t suddenly have the Mona Lisa just by videoing the mess and sticking it on YouTube, would you? Jezza’s Jackson Pollock approach to the art of PMQs meant we were lectured on Windrush, the NHS, schools funding, police funding, Amber Rudd, child poverty, and the macroeconomic situation – all within minutes. Dizzying, ineffective and risible. One feared Jezza was on the cusp of attacking Theresa May over Gulf I, allotments and the lack of publicly-funded raspberry jam… Continue reading

Bercow Calls Patsy Julian Lewis to Praise His Treatment of Staff

Absurd spectacle in the Commons as John Bercow calls his pal Julian Lewis to make a patsy point of order asking the Speaker to confirm just how much his staff love him. Bercow takes the opportunity to say the “great majority” of his former staff left on good terms. As he and Lewis know, that isn’t the point. How many of Bercow’s former staff did not leave on good terms? And why? This is not the behaviour of an innocent man…

PMQs: Who’s Asking the Questions?

Oral questions to the Prime Minister

Q1 Wera Hobhouse (Bath) If she will list her official engagements for Wednesday 2 May.

Q2 Martin Docherty-Hughes (West Dunbartonshire)

Q3 Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham)

Q4 Hywel Williams (Arfon)

Q5 Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West)

Q6 Jo Stevens (Cardiff Central)

Q7 Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough)

Q8 Mrs Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden)

Q9 John Stevenson (Carlisle)

Q10 Ms Karen Buck (Westminster North)

Q11 Paula Sherriff (Dewsbury)

Q12 Helen Jones (Warrington North)

Q13 Chris Stephens (Glasgow South West)

Q14 Matt Warman (Boston and Skegness)

Q15 Chris Law (Dundee West)

Comments in the comments…

Remain Peer: This Amendment Can Stop Brexit

There it is: Lord Bilimoria lets the cat out of the bag in the Lords and admits “It is parliament thanks to this amendment that will have the ability to stop the train crash that is Brexit”. 

Jenny Jones responds to the Remainiac Lords by telling them their bonkers speeches have put her off voting for their amendment:

Remain Lords not covering themselves in glory today.

Via via Hugh Bennett

LibDem Peer Compares May to Hitler

Latest from the Lords, where the disgraced moat-cleaner Douglas Hogg and friends are tabling an amendment to stop Brexit. LibDem peer Lord Roberts has just compared Theresa May to Hitler:

“My mind went back to Berlin in March 1933, when the Enabling Bill was passed in the Reichstag. That Enabling Bill transferred democratic rights of the parliament into the hands of one man, that was the Chancellor. His name was Adolf Hitler. Perhaps I’m seeing threats that do not exist, but they are there, they are possible. Who’d have said before the 1930s that Germany, this cultured country, would involve itself in such a terrible war.”

This is the standard of argument from Remain peers.

Vid via Darren Grimes.

Lord Moat: Brexit Only an Interim Decision

Douglas Hogg, the disgraced former Tory minister who filed a £2,000 expenses claim to have his moat cleaned, has tabled his “Stop Brexit” motion in the Lords this afternoon. The amendment, backed by Labour and LibDem Remainers, seeks to allow parliament to control the negotiations, including extending the negotiating process and potentially keeping us in the EU indefinitely. It is a naked attempt by Hogg and other Remain peers to reverse Brexit. As he told the Lords: “At the very best Brexit was only an interim decision”. Left the Commons in disgrace as the poster boy for the expenses scandal, then tried to stop Brexit from the Lords. What a contribution to public life.

Jeremy Corbyn and the Theory of Human Sexual Response

In the 1960s Masters and Johnson formulated their theory of human sexual response: they defined that divine crescendo as moving from excitement, through plateau, and on finally to the bliss of climax. This model is curiously applicable to parliamentary performance, in particular, to PMQs…

Jezza began promisingly, quickening the pulse of the House by leading on Windrush. We have come to expect Corbyn – labouring under a misbegotten impression of his own political creativity and genius – to question the government on the least (rather than most) pressing issue of the day. Were, for example, the nation to be overwhelmed by a robotic Tory killer army, literally stringing up the homeless from lamposts and throwing benefits claimants off buildings, Corbyn would use that week’s PMQs to lead on the abstruse calculus of the schools funding formula. As such, Corbyn usually fails to reach even the excitement stage. Diane, is that you sighing knowingly? Continue reading

PMQs: Who’s Asking the Questions?

Oral Questions to the Prime Minister

Q1 Gavin Robinson (Belfast East) If she will list her official engagements for Wednesday 25 April.
Q2 Neil Gray (Airdrie and Shotts)
Q3 Douglas Chapman (Dunfermline and West Fife)
Q4 Andrew Bowie (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine)
Q5 Liz McInnes (Heywood and Middleton)
Q6 Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central)
Q7 John Lamont (Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk)
Q8 Colleen Fletcher (Coventry North East)
Q9 Dr Andrew Murrison (South West Wiltshire)
Q10 Lucy Powell (Manchester Central)
Q11 Dan Carden (Liverpool, Walton)
Q12 Richard Drax (South Dorset)
Q13 David Tredinnick (Bosworth)

Comments in the comments…

Parliament’s Bullying Inquiry Won’t Investigate Bercow

Who could possibly have predicted that parliament’s bullying inquiry would be a toothless whitewash that lets John Bercow off the hook? Dame Laura Cox, the independent former judge brought in following the allegations about the Speaker, has confirmed she will not be investigating him.[…] Read the rest

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No prizes for guessing who Andrea Leadsom is talking about:

“As you said last week, Mr Speaker, we have a responsibility to safeguard the rights of this House and as Leader of the House I seek to do exactly that, treating all members of parliament with courtesy and respect. I hope and expect all Honourable and Right Honourable members to do likewise.”

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