Ten days since the start of the Great February Revolution (as historians are unlikely to call it) and the breakaway MPs must be feeling a bit miffed. The rebels, tagged as ‘TIGs’ in the press, are blessed with every advantage a political movement could hope for – apart from a logo, a creed, a headquarters, a constitution and a following. The 11-strong group have become the silent stars of PMQs. Seen but not heard. The Speaker failed again this Wednesday to ask a TIG to speak. Does their reticence signify anything? Perhaps trouble is brewing and the TIG bigwigs are trying to stop the membership from cracking up into dissident units. Still, it would fit perfectly with their principles if they were to split into a fresh set of warring groups: New TIG, Blue TIG, Continuity TIG and the TIG-Dems.
Theresa May had a wardrobe rethink today. As a woman, her scope for sending emotional messages via her colour-palette is far wider than a man’s. She often sports no-nonsense clicky-heels corporate black. Occasionally she goes for power-crazed scarlet. Sometimes she selects a jolt-to-the-eyeballs blue, Maggie’s signature tint, which South Africans call ‘blow-torch blue.’ Today she went all soft and summery in an orangey-pink tunic, the colour of lightly poached salmon or Tesco bubble-bath. This signalled a warmer, cosier manner. With weary patience she batted off every query. Urged to rule out ‘No Deal’, she boomeranged the issue back and invited the questioner to rule it out by voting for her deal. It was a tepid performance but the chamber seemed a bit zonked and flat, like a tom slumbering in a shaft of sunlight. Brexit was mentioned but without much passion.
Only two diehard Brexiteers were called. Nigel Dodds rebuked the kamikaze MPs who yesterday hijacked the PM’s no-deal strategy. Since their actions might be construed by some as lending assistance to a foreign power, Dodds’s slap-down was remarkably mild. Peter Bone, never afraid to chastise his leader in public, chose to make a joke instead. The way to stop cabinet leaks, he said, is to televise the cabinet.
Julian Knight mentioned a dustbin-related outrage in Solihull. Back in 2017, striking binmen in nearby Birmingham left mountains of garbage on the streets of Knight’s ‘beautiful’ constituency. With a new strike looming, he asked for better behaviour from Labour-run Birmingham. But this, he warned, ‘could be a taster of what would happen under a hard-left Labour government.’
We got a ‘taster’ of what would happen under a hard-left Tory government. The Conservatives are keen for taxpayers to fund the burials of all under-18s. Sir John Hayes supports this wheeze and he seems not to realise that nationalising the mortuaries will eventually mean a state funeral for every citizen. It’s a policy worthy of Stalin and Sir John expressed it in phrases worthy of Gary Barlow. ‘We cannot mend broken hearts,’ he intoned. ‘But those who have loved and lost deserve better than delay and doubt.’
It sounded like an ode to a sick lamb composed by a Victorian parson.