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This evening’s Waugh Zone is by Ned Simons. Today was supposed to be a quieter one. Paul is away.
In 2015, Michael Fallon famously injected the Miliband family feud into the middle of the general election campaign. “Ed Miliband stabbed his own brother in the back to become Labour leader. Now he is willing to stab the UK in the back to become prime minister,” the then defence secretary said, slapping a dead cat on the table.
Jo Johnson’s shock announcement this morning he is quitting politics has handed Labour a chance at revenge. “Boris Johnson poses such a threat that even his own brother doesn’t trust him,” said Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner. Expect to see versions of that on a few posters over the next few weeks.
The outgoing MP for Opington, who quit Theresa May’s government to support a second referendum but then accepted a job in the current government, said he had been “torn between family loyalty and the national interest”. The implication of course is that he does not think his brother’s leadership of the country is in the national interest.
Boris, speaking on a stage in front of lots of police officers this afternoon, was repeatedly asked by journalists why voters should believe in him if his own brother did not. Already facing questions about when he will resign, the PM said he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than delay Brexit beyond October 31. Although he notably did not actually commit to quitting. To make matters worse, one of the poor police officers arranged behind him was overcome with sickness during his speech and had to sit down. It’s not just May who has to deal with her backdrop collapsing.
The Sun reports Jo told Boris he intended to quit in a phone call last night. While the Evening Standard quotes Rachel Johnson, the PM’s pro-Remain sister, as helpfully describing her family’s argument about Brexit as “becoming Isis-like in its intensity and silliness”. In 2013, Boris told The Australian his family was nothing like the Miliband clan. “Only a socialist could do that to his brother, only a socialist could regard familial ties as being so trivial as to shaft his own brother,” he said. Well I suppose there really is more that unites us than divides us.
The PM will on Monday have another go at getting the election which he doesn’t want but actually wants. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons leader, announced that MPs will be asked to vote for a second time on allowing poll. But many Labour MPs are still unhappy at the idea of allowing Boris to pick an election date before Article 50 has been extended. As one Labour source told Rachel, some want to let the PM “stew in his own juices”.
On Commons People This Week
Commons People, our weekly politics podcast, returns today and also has a new look. On the pod, former Tory special adviser Chris White, who worked for William Hague when he was Commons leader, tells us he believes Jeremy Corbyn has done a deal with No.10 to back an election on Monday. There is also a quiz.
Quote Of The Day
“It’s been an honour to represent Orpington for 9 years & to serve as a minister under three PMs. In recent weeks I’ve been torn between family loyalty and the national interest - it’s an unresolvable tension & time for others to take on my roles as MP & Minister. #overandout”
- Jo Johnson quits politics. Drama.
Thursday Cheat Sheet
Luciana Berger, the former Labour and Change UK MP, defected to the Lib Dems this morning. The Liverpool Wavertree MP chose the Evening Standard to announce the switch. The newspaper suggests she will abandon her current seat and seek re-election as a Lib Dem in London.
Sajid Javid has said the 21 MPs purged from the Conservative Party for voting to block no-deal should be offered a way back into the party. Tory MP Simon Hoare, the chairman of the Commons Northern Ireland committee, added the party was “better being like Churchill and not Stalin”.
George Osborne is not going to get the IMF chief gig, according to Francis Elliott, the political editor of The Times. “His friends say he got some support from Washington, London and Beijing ‘but it wasn’t going to be enough’,” he writes.
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