If you are a lobbyist looking to access a government minister but want to circumvent the tedious checks enforced by civil servants, then Newark-on-Trent is the town for you. This corner of Nottinghamshire is packed with reshuffle hopefuls and Tory big-wigs ‘doing their bit’ for the by-election bid.
Education minister Liz Truss had taken her mum and kids along. George Osborne was milling about while wearing his favourite high-viz jacket. And Theresa May brought her characteristic sparkle to the stump: the Home Secretary told assembled arm-chewing hacks that the Tories’ “excellent candidate” would secure the future for the hardworking people of Newark, you will be glad to hear. Said candidate, Robert Jenrick, rolled his eyes as he related how Owen Paterson had called him for the umpteenth time: ‘We’ve run out of flooded areas to take him round.’ It was riot, I tell you!
The Ukip baddies were never far away, though. Indeed, we were even treated to a glimpse of what a future Ukip / Tory pact might look like (above) when Matthew Hancock, resplendent in neon orange trainers, helped a campaigning kipper with directions. Hancock assures Mr S that he really did send the chap off to the right destination, although he was not amused when Mr S suggested that all these Tory ministers knocking on doors might drive voters into the arms of the purple peril.