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Chests were puffed, order papers waved, sneers smeared across superior chops: Our parliamentary betters (that’s how they see themselves) started the first of several days of close scrutiny of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.
One relief: No Bercow. The House was ‘in committee’ and the strutting martinet was therefore absent. The chair was taken by Deputy Speakers Lindsay Hoyle, Dame Rosie ‘Mrs Slocombe’ Winterton and others.
Labour - Brexiteer - Frank - Field - Birkenhead
Labour Brexiteer Frank Field (Birkenhead) went first. Almost before his spine was straight he ran into hysterical interruptions from Labour Remainers.
Prime among them was windy Paul Farrelly (Lab, Newcastle-under-Lyme). Deputy Speaker Hoyle told him to stop being a pest.
Mr - Field - Brexit - Bill - Clauses
Mr Field wanted a Brexit Bill of little more than six clauses. That would be harder for the House of Lords to delay, he argued.
If peers played silly beggars with Brexit, ‘many of us will push the nuclear button – they will sound their death warrant’. This won agreement from the Tory benches but sullen silence from the Labour side. ‘I thought we wanted to get rid of them!’ laughed Mr Field, mocking his Left-wing colleagues.
Son-of-the-nobility - Remainer - Hilary - Benn - Lab
When son-of-the-nobility and leading Remainer Hilary Benn (Lab, Leeds Central) tried to trip him up on an analogy about house-buying, Mr Field replied tartly that ‘I have always bought my homes, never inherited them’. Ouch! Though he later withdrew the jibe, that searing swipe will not be forgotten.
Remainers loved a speech from Kenneth Clarke (Con, Rushcliffe), at his most blustery and burgundy-faced. He recounted European Council meetings of yore when agreements were reached over long lunches and ministers would then go out and lie to their electorates about what they had said. Mr Clarke seemed to think this was all wonderfully funny.
Devotion - Vanity - Boy - Politicians
Their devotion made him so giddy with jocular vanity that the old boy started sneering about how nowadays politicians feel they...
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