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Old Chuka is a model of sterile urbanity: HENRY DEEDES sees Mr Umunna laying it on thick 

While the Prime Minister dirtied his mitts wooing Welsh farmers, Chuka Umunna chose to attack him from a cosy hospitality suite at Watford Football Club.

Good old Chuka. You wouldn’t catch him floundering in the hay shearing a sheep’s backside, as Boris gamely did yesterday morning. 

Even money says the old smoothy’s never so much as owned a pair of wellingtons, let alone felt the squelch of bogland around the ankles.

Do people really buy the idea of Boris as some sort of deranged despot because he prorogued Parliament a few days too early? I have to say I’m not feeling it out on the stump at the moment. Chuka Umunna is pictured out canvassing in Watford on Monday

Yesterday, the Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman was his usual model of sterile urbanity. Crinkle-free white shirt, shoes polished to a mirror-like buff.

His taut blue suit, adorned with a little Lib Dem lapel badge, was so spotless he could almost have performed open heart surgery in it. Everyman he is not. 

His wish, apparently, is to become foreign secretary, or so he had told a newspaper interviewer the day before. 

Mr Umunna is pictured with a local councillor while on the campaign trail. While the Prime Minister dirtied his mitts wooing Welsh farmers, Chuka Umunna chose to attack him from a cosy hospitality suite at Watford Football Club

Mr Umunna is pictured with a local councillor while on the campaign trail. While the Prime Minister dirtied his mitts wooing Welsh farmers, Chuka Umunna chose to attack him from a cosy hospitality suite at Watford Football Club

Chutzpah and steely-eyed ambition have never been in short supply chez Chuka.

He entered the room quieter than a shimmering panther, so much so the audience, composed mainly of journalists, barely noticed him at first. From his wrist I spotted dangling a bejewelled diver’s watch as chunky as a gold ingot.

We got some boring preamble about the role of Nato, sprinkled with some high-minded references to Churchill, Attlee and NHS founder Aneurin Bevan, which he appeared to have fished out of a quotations book.

At first I thought we were getting one of those lofty foreign-policy speeches Tony Blair used to give as PM to show us how above trifling domestic affairs he was.

Wearily, my eyes wandered on to the pitch outside, where groundsmen were digging up the penalty spot. The chilly suburban drizzle suddenly appeared quite enticing.

Then came the attacks on Boris. The PM, Chuka said, was the epitome of Right-wing populism, his authoritarian style as bad as Vladimir Putin of Russia and Turkey’s President Erdogan. 

This, presumably, is the same President Putin widely believed to have ordered the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury last year.

His taut blue suit, adorned with a little Lib Dem lapel badge, was so spotless he could almost have performed open heart surgery in it. Everyman he is not. His wish, apparently, is to become foreign secretary, or so he had told a newspaper interviewer the day before

His taut blue suit, adorned with a little Lib Dem lapel badge, was so spotless he could almost have performed open heart surgery in it. Everyman he is not. His wish, apparently, is to become foreign secretary, or so he had told a newspaper interviewer the day before

Do people really buy the idea of Boris as some sort of deranged despot because he prorogued Parliament a few days too early? I have to say I’m not feeling it out on the stump at the moment.

Chuka continued laying it on thick. He accused the Prime Minister of copying from the ‘Trump playbook’ (horrible Americanism) by engaging in ‘bigoted, sexist and Islamophobic behaviour’.

Oh, and Trump gave the order for the Conservatives to ally themselves with the Brexit Party, apparently.

Good old Chuka. You wouldn’t catch him floundering in the hay shearing a sheep’s backside, as Boris gamely did yesterday morning. Even money says the old smoothy’s never so much as owned a pair of wellingtons, let alone felt the squelch of bogland around the ankles

Good old Chuka. You wouldn’t catch him floundering in the hay shearing a sheep’s backside, as Boris gamely did yesterday morning. Even money says the old smoothy’s never so much as owned a pair of wellingtons, let alone felt the squelch of bogland around the ankles

There was an inevitable mention of Trump’s scruffbag election guru Steve Bannon. 

Ever since Bannon exchanged text messages with the PM last year, rumours have sprouted he is now controlling each move the Prime Minister makes from his bat cave in Washington DC.

Oh Chuka! You always seemed such a sensible fellow – if mildly absurd at times. 

This speech, though, was desperate, flirting with conspiracy theory and unworthy of mainstream politics.

To me it merely suggested just how far the Lib Dems have retreated in recent weeks from their ludicrous early declarations that their leader Jo Swinson could be Prime Minister. ‘Stop Boris’ now seems to the be the sum of their ambitions.

Outside, Chuka’s chariot awaited him in the form of the Liberal Democrats’ Chinese-built electric election bus. 

Chuka continued laying it on thick. He accused the Prime Minister of copying from the ‘Trump playbook’ (horrible Americanism) by engaging in ‘bigoted, sexist and Islamophobic behaviour’. Oh, and Trump gave the order for the Conservatives to ally themselves with the Brexit Party, apparently

Chuka continued laying it on thick. He accused the Prime Minister of copying from the ‘Trump playbook’ (horrible Americanism) by engaging in ‘bigoted, sexist and Islamophobic behaviour’. Oh, and Trump gave the order for the Conservatives to ally themselves with the Brexit Party, apparently

The battery is said to be holding up just fine, which is just as well because the party’s campaign is totally zapped.

Earlier that morning Chuka’s mentor Tony Blair had been giving a suspiciously similar talk over at the news organisation Reuters. 

He was white of hair and thick of smarm, his face now as bronzed and lined as a mahogany wood carving.

He described the global political scene as crazy ‘but I still believe British politics is unfortunately ahead of the pack’.

Boris Johnson was someone he said he wouldn’t trust with a blank cheque. Phoney Tony accusing others of untrustworthiness? I almost choked on my boiled egg.

Are Lib Dems quietly rowing back on vow to cancel Brexit? Chuka Umunna gives speech in which he fails to use the word ‘revoke’, sparking rumours the party’s key manifesto pledge is being abandoned

The Liberal Democrats appeared to have abandoned their policy of revoking Article 50 yesterday after conceding that they will not win the General Election.

Foreign affairs spokesman Chuka Umunna gave a speech in which he failed to even mention the word ‘revoke’, despite the fact it is the flagship policy in their manifesto.

In the wake of falling poll ratings, the party appears to have changed tack to focus on a second referendum. Yesterday’s ICM survey showed the Lib Dems stuck on 13 per cent.

Chuka Umunna gave a speech in which he failed to even mention the word 'revoke', despite the fact it is the flagship policy in the Liberal Democrat manifesto

Chuka Umunna gave a speech in which he failed to even mention the word ‘revoke’, despite the fact it is the flagship policy in the Liberal Democrat manifesto

Earlier this year, leader Jo Swinson told party conference delegates that she was their ‘candidate to be prime minister’, adding that a Lib Dem government would revoke Brexit. In other circumstances, she said the party would support another poll.

Mr Umunna yesterday urged voters to ‘change the arithmetic’ in Parliament in favour of a second referendum. 

Speaking in Watford, he urged voters to elect as many Lib Dems as possible to deprive the Tories of a majority and ‘ensure the arithmetic in a new House of Commons can deliver a People’s Vote, and pave the way to secure not only Britain’s place at the heart of Europe but as a world leader too’.

Mr Umunna’s failure to mention revoke came after Miss Swinson was savaged on BBC Question Time by a Remain supporter who lambasted the policy to cancel Brexit without another vote.

Nevertheless, Mr Umunna denied the party have abandoned their revoke policy, and insisted a second referendum was the ‘most likely’ route to stopping Brexit.

‘The revoke policy hasn’t been abandoned,’ he told the Daily Mail. ‘If we went from 20 MPs to 327 MPs, which would put us in a position to stop Brexit, I think it would be rather odd if we didn’t immediately revoke Article 50. 

Miss Swinson was savaged on BBC Question Time by a Remain supporter who lambasted the policy to cancel Brexit without another vote

Miss Swinson was savaged on BBC Question Time by a Remain supporter who lambasted the policy to cancel Brexit without another vote

‘However, we’ve always been clear that we will continue in all other scenarios to champion the cause of… the People’s Vote. We will keep pressing for that route. And that is the route, which it seems to me, is the most likely route to stop Brexit.’

Mr Umunna said he was not surprised by the ‘squeeze’ the Lib Dems had received in the polls, but said voting for them was the only way to stop a Tory majority.

He said: ‘At the very least we must reduce the numbers of Conservative MPs.’ He added polling showed that in a ‘substantial’ number of seats, the Lib Dems were likely to be the ‘stronger challenger’ to the Tories. On Labour he said: ‘Far from taking seats, Labour is trying to defend its own from the Tories.’

In his speech Mr Umunna attacked Mr Johnson, whom he accused of lining up with ‘right-wing, authoritarian nationalists’ on the world stage. 

He added: ‘Inevitably, Johnson will become more reliant on Trump in the short term if he is re-elected. Leave the EU and the UK will become President Trump’s poodle.’

Asked if he thought Mr Johnson was racist, Mr Umunna said: ‘The things that he has said and done are racist. Only he in his heart knows whether he is a racist.’

  • All plastic packaging would have to be recyclable under a Liberal Democrat government. The party said it would give firms three years to implement the change.

By Claire Ellicot Political Correspondent for The Daily Mail

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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