Hoyle Raises Glass to Strangers’ Bar Despite Its “Bad Reputation”

Now that Labour MP Neil Coyle has been suspended from Parliament’s bars for drunkenly screaming “f*ck you, lose some weight” to Craig Williams in front of a packed crowd in Strangers’, talks of reining in the bar’s infamous drinking culture has soon picked up steam in some quarters. Luckily, the rumours of Strangers’ death are greatly exaggerated… 

Speaking to Naga Munchetty on BBC Radio 5 Live, Speaker Lindsay Hoyle defended Parliament’s favourite watering hole despite its “bad reputation”, and insisted it should stay open evermore:

“People work very long hours and the fact is that to have a social drink is never a problem. We are a big village and within a village there is usually an outlet. Strangers’ Bar has had a bad reputation. I want it to have a better reputation […] the right standards, the right protection and that it is there for social drinking, not heavy drinking.”

Guido raises his glass…

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House of Commons Serving Alcohol Again Today

Excited MPs get in touch to tell Guido that alcohol is finally being served again on the parliamentary estate – albeit with a snag. Stranger’s Bar is now not going to open until September due to difficulties with providing table service. A source close to the decision making on the matter said there just wasn’t the will to get it open before the Summer recess, which starts in a fortnight.

Thankfully from today, MPs will be able to relieve their thirst with taxpayer-subsidised booze from a number of parliamentary venues, including the Pugin Room, Strangers Dining Room, Adjournment and the smoking room. All is not lost…

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MPs Pressure Speaker to Re-Open Stranger’s

Soon after Boris announced that pubs would be able to open yesterday, MPs turned to thinking what this could mean for Parliament’s watering holes – not least Stranger’s Bar. A source close to the speaker tells Guido that the bar was initially closed by Lindsay Hoyle pre-lockdown in order for Parliament to not look out of touch with the rest of the country. Now restrictions are being lifted multiple MPs are in contact with the speaker’s office to get it back up and running from Monday 6th July…

MPs concern for Stranger’s to re-open is not unfounded. One MP listed to Guido the number of pubs and bars in Parliament that had been closed down or stripped of their character in recent years, expressing worry that Stranger’s could be next, under the guise of Covid. Another told Guido it would be easy to open the bar al fresco onto the terrace. Guido hears that idea might be a goer…

UPDATE: Guido can now confirm Stranger’s will be reopening on 6 July.

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Labour Shadow Cabinet Drown Their Sorrows

Labour’s leadership contest was in full swing last night after the PLP hustings, with almost all contenders taking to Strangers bar to lobby fellow MPs. Parliament’s bar’s veterans were amazed to see the likes of Starmer, Long-Bailey, Rayner, Thornberry and Phillips – almost never been spotted there – getting merry. Damian McBride, no stranger to Strangers, was seen pressing the flesh on behalf his mistress, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, in the forlorn search for a single endorsement. Burgon almost found his way to Strangers, instead he ended up having his dinner in the Commons canteen with Cat Smith instead, in turn missing a few votes…

After staying until closing in the newly inclusive Strangers bar (now allowing staff in as well as MPs) – an elite group of the Shadow Cabinet headed off to Players bar – where the resentful attitude of attending Labourites towards the Shadow Cabinet members for losing the election made things decidedly less merry. Ashworth, Louise Haigh, Chris Bryant and Lord Adonis still managed to enjoy themselves, dad-dancing and loudly singing along to apropos lyrics, “Losing everything, it’s like the sun going down on me”. Sad…

In the end, a row erupted after a singer in the bar adapted the lyrics of Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ to say “the record shows, we took the blows and we lost ’cause of your way”. Chris Bryant shot back with “no we didn’t” eventually resulting in the singer calling the Shadow Cabinet “c**ts”. Singing truth to the powerless.

Expect Labour MPs to be getting on the booze a lot over the coming months…

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