ANDREW PIERCE: Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer get a bashing in tell-all book
As Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer are finding, it’s lonely at the top. Ambitious Cabinet and shadow ministers hankering for promotion, personal approval ratings stuttering — and now the leaders must brace for more.
Step forward obscure ex-junior minister Gavin Barwell, who served as chief of staff to Theresa May (remember her?) for two years of her ill-fated premiership.
Barwell has penned a tell-all account of Mrs May’s blighted negotiations with Brussels as she tried, and failed, to deliver Brexit.
And I am told that neither Johnson nor Starmer can look forward to a glowing report.
My mole alleges that Boris, Foreign Secretary under Mrs May, is painted as disloyal and scheming, his carefully timed resignation in 2018 (having waited for then-Brexit Secretary David Davis to exit) helping to torpedo her premiership.
Chief Of Staff: Notes From Downing Street is also said to dish out plenty of dirt on the Labour leader. Rather than working in the interests of the country — which, during those tortuous times, was desperate for clarity —the party’s then-shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir is said to have done everything he could to sabotage all efforts at cross-party consensus.
That’s the two current leaders dealt with. But now we must turn to the author.
What chances, I wonder, did Mrs May have of achieving Brexit given her own chief of staff was such an arch-Remoaner?
After his Croydon Central constituency voted to Remain in 2016, Barwell — who many say never got over the Brexit result — tweeted: ‘Proud that my home town and the great city of which it is part rejected the politics of hate and division yesterday.’
Following her tearful resignation on the steps of No. 10, May gave Barwell a peerage for his loyalty. No wonder he seems so keen to blame others for her failure.
Frost cools Elton’s Brexit rant
Notoriously tetchy pop star Elton John is furious about what he calls the ‘nightmare’ impact of Brexit on visa rules for musicians.
Having accused the Government of being ‘philistines’ and saying the new rules are ‘crucifying’ for young people, the tantrum-prone diva now reveals his initial excitement at a possible breakthrough in the rules has swiftly ‘turned to disappointment’.
Yet as Brexit Minister Lord Frost archly told MPs recently: ‘I can’t help noticing that [Elton’s] first hits were before the UK became a member of the EU.’
Elton was a rock legend long before Europe chose to all but abolish its internal borders: and, as he likes to tell us, he’s still standing.
Holy elites, Archbishop!
So precisely who are the ‘metropolitan elites’ whom the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, took time to lambast over the weekend?
Calling for ‘an expansive vision of what it means to be English as part of the UK’, the cleric argued in a newspaper article that many English people feel left behind by the ‘metropolitan elites in London and the South East’.
Fine words, I’m sure, but I can’t help but think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone more ‘elite’ than Cottrell himself. According to Debrett’s Correct Form (the bible on such matters), the only non-royal members of the English establishment who rank higher than the Archbishop of York are the Archbishop of Canterbury (who is on sabbatical) and the Lord Chancellor.
Should Robert Buckland, our current Lord Chancellor, be taking Cottrell’s criticisms personally?
‘Over 55,000 pregnant people in England & Scotland have had the #coronavirus vaccine,’ reads a bizarre tweet from the Scottish Government — run, needless to say, by the uber-woke SNP.
‘Pregnant people’? As the ever-sensible government adviser Nimco Ali asks: ‘Why is the word “women” so offensive to so many these days?’
GB News, the new anti-woke TV channel, is seeking a chief of staff to steady the ship after a distinctly rocky launch. According to the job spec, the ideal candidate will be a ‘disruptor and an innovator’ with ‘proven experience in a similar role’.
Sounds like a tailor-made SOS to Boris Johnson’s former de facto chief of staff, that great ‘misfit and weirdo’ Dominic Cummings.