Wonderful over Christmas, wasn’t it? No Parliament, ergo no Bercow, no petty procedural niggles, no partisan ‘urgent questions’, no wrecking amendments, fiddlesome feints, faux outrage or ear-denting bleats from Grieve, Benn, Soubry, the Green Party woman and endless Scots Nats.
But yesterday the whole ghastly caboodle returned to Westminster and sanity ended.
Our snooty-falutin’, think-they’re-better-than-the-plebs legislature was back to its ways, rising on hind hooves to deplore Brexit and demand that it be delayed or diluted. And they’re surprised some hot-heads shout rude names at them!
A head of indignation built during the afternoon because Remainer Soubry had ‘Nazi!’ shouted at her while she was doing a TV interview on the public area outside Parliament.
A head of indignation built during the afternoon because Remainer Soubry had ‘Nazi!’ shouted at her while she was doing a TV interview on the public area outside Parliament
For months, pro-Leave MPs have been heckled by EU flag wavers (who may well be in the pay of Brussels) and this has been called ‘freedom of expression’. Now that the heckling was from the other side, they were shocked.
After a point of order from Remainer Nick Boles (Con, Grantham & Stamford), Speaker Bercow orated at length on the matter, even while saying he did not wish to make a meal of it.
It is certainly wrong to call the jaunty Miss Soubry a Nazi, for she has a fine strand of dissent that would not have pleased Adolf; yet it would be fair to say she has been plotting to block the result of the biggest extra-parliamentary vote ever held in this kingdom.
She is a non-democratic parliamentarian. After these two years, the word ‘parliamentarian’ can no longer be said to be synonymous with championing the will of electorate. That is largely her doing.
It is certainly wrong to call the jaunty Miss Soubry a Nazi, for she has a fine strand of dissent that would not have pleased Adolf
If I had been down near Abingdon Green I would have been more tempted to push a drawing pin into the bagpipes whose owner stands somewhere down there, blasting out ‘Greensleeves’ much of the day.
He was at it on the day the Christmas recess started last month and he was at it yesterday when we all trudged back to work. Perhaps that bagpiping, not Brexit, is what has driven MPs mad.
Jeremy Corbyn had persuaded Bercow to grant an urgent question on Brexit.
Theresa May, who had been in Liverpool for an NHS announcement, did not turn up.
Mr Corbyn waxed indignant, chewing some of his moustache as he said ‘there can be no more hiding no more running away’ from a decision on Brexit.
Er, quite, Jeremy. Mrs May sent along Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay to hold the whingeing mob at bay, which he duly did. Mr Barclay has a waterproof quality, like a pair of suede shoes newly Scotchguarded.
Mr Corbyn waxed indignant, chewing some of his moustache as he said ‘there can be no more hiding no more running away’ from a decision on Brexit
In the top corner of the Chamber, where the Tory Europhiles sit, Stephen Hammond took a perch, whispering to the likes of Ma Soubry and Tory-in-name-only Sarah Wollaston (Totnes).
Mr Hammond is one of those persuadable rebels who rejoined the Government as a minister. Yet there he was consorting with Mrs May’s foes. Perhaps he forgot he was no longer a backbencher.
On Labour’s front bench, Barry Gardiner closed his eyes and meditated, a bearded Buddha, while Mr Barclay neutralised Remainer attacks.
Ian Blackford, leader of the SNP at Westminster, was furious that Mrs May could ‘not be bothered’ to attend. The same Blackford, ahem, missed a Commons set-to in December because he was late leaving home.
Laura Smith (Lab, Crewe & Nantwich) screamed abuse at Mr Barclay. Last month, charm-lite Ms Smith complained that she and Labour MPs had ‘to put up with the most disgraceful insults thrown at us’. What steaming hypocrites they are, these grotesques who pollute our public life.
It was left to Greg Hands (Con, Chelsea & Fulham), one of the few fluent German speakers here, to report how the European Commission’s top official, Martin Selmayr, had been bragging about how Brussels felt it had gained ‘all its objectives’ with the deal with Mrs May. If Herr Selmayr is pleased, that deal must be even worse than the noise of bagpipes.