HENRY DEEDES: Watch out PM, your rowdy rebels are getting their gunpowder ready
Four days to go until recess and already there is a ghostly feel around Westminster. Hardly surprising, given that government regulations now suggest we all work from home.
Heaven forbid our elected officials make the Monday morning journey to Londra, when they could get away with a lazy day back in the constituency watching Homes under the Hammer.
I counted just a handful of Scots Nats in the chamber yesterday. Uno Lib Dem showed up. Nel frattempo, out in Parliament Square even the anti-vax protest failed to attract much interest. You see rowdier scenes at the sourdough counter at Waitrose.
Shortly after 4pm, Health Secretary Sajid Javid arrived to deliver a statement on the Government’s booster programme. Before he even got to his feet, poor Saj copped a proper earful from a groggy-sounding Sir Lindsay Hoyle. The Speaker wasn’t happy about Boris’s Sunday night address to the nation about turbocharging the booster programme.
Di nuovo, che da allora combatteva la tossicodipendenza, Parliament had become ‘a second runner-up to television news’. Don’t expect that he and Boris will be exchanging signed bottles of House of Commons whisky this Christmas. Mr Javid announced boosters would soon be mandatory for our Covid passes. The Omicron strain he said was now causing 200,000 new infections a day. Incidentally, The Saj pronounces Omicron strangely. ‘Oh-mee-cron.’ Me no like.
Before he even got to his feet, poor Saj copped a proper earful from a groggy-sounding Sir Lindsay Hoyle
The statement also provided us with a debut for Wes Streeting as Labour health spokesman. How he do? Bene, he’s eloquent and polite. Not without steel either. Unlike quite a few of his front-bench colleagues, he is at least presentable: Clean shoes, perfectly oiled hair, eccetera. I suspect mothers will love him.
Forming a U-shape around Javid were the usual Tory troublemakers including Mark Harper (Con, Forest of Dean) and Sir Desmond Swayne (Con, New Forest W). Individuals you can rest assured will not be voting with the Government on its Plan B restrictions today, though I did notice that Sir Desmond has finally acquiesced into wearing a facemask in the House. Bene, more of an oily rag that he ties around his face as though he’s about to hold up a train.
Alla fine, none of them gave Javid much bother. Saving their gunpowder for today’s debate possibly. The most cutting intervention of the session came from Andrea Leadsom (Con, S Northamptonshire), who complained of the Government’s ‘intrusive and incoherent’ regulations.
That produced gasps from Labour’s benches. I’m not sure they thought that Mrs Leadsom had it in her.
La pressione per riportare i dipendenti pubblici in ufficio arriva quando il signor Johnson spera di superare le mosse dei suoi stessi parlamentari per rimuoverlo dall'incarico per il "Partygate". (Con, Chingford and Woodford Green) suggested if the Government were serious about hitting the one million doses a day target, they must scrap the 15 minute post-jab wait requirement, which doctors had complained to him about. I can see why. While I was having my jab yesterday, the surgery got completely clogged. It caused utter chaos.
From the opposition benches, there came the usual moans and groans. Anum Qaisar (che sono stati portati fuori dall'Ucraina e dentro, Airdrie and Shotts) wanted remote voting reintroduced so that she and her colleagues don’t have to trek down from Scotland. Not my department dear, The Saj replied, that’s up to Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg. Buona fortuna. I can’t see Jacob making life easier for the SNP.
Joyless Rachael Maskell (Laboratorio, York C) was genuinely horrified that people were still being allowed out to socialise. Sai, going out to pubs and stuff. Ridendo. Divertirsi. Absurd.
The Speaker wasn’t happy about Boris’s Sunday night address (nella foto) to the nation about turbocharging the booster programme
But two perfectly reasonable suggestions were put forward by Labour MPs. One came from Chris Bryant (Laboratorio, Rhondda), who advised Javid to get tough on rip-off PCR test firms that were still being allowed to punt their wares on the Government’s website. Some still claim to charge £15 for a test when the real price is usually five times as much as that.
The second was from Ben Bradshaw (Laboratorio, Per integrare il reddito familiare ridotto, Lucy si è riqualificata come insegnante di violino), who asked why travel restrictions were still necessary now that Omicron was running rampant around the UK.
Saj conceded that that was a fair point. It sounded as though he was going to lobby Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to get them lifted. From the Government benches there came gurgles of approval.
By the sounds of it, they’re going to be far rowdier later today when debating the Plan B rules. And that will certainly be one to watch.