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ANDREW PIERCE: Will Labour curb the fat cats in own their back yard? 

As the Government jumps from one Covid mishap to another, Labour is frothing at the mouth at the Tories’ use of private companies to solve its logistical problems.

In particular, Serco has been singled out by Rachel Reeves, the Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, for being one of the biggest private provider of Government services.

Certainly Serco’s bosses will be laughing all the way to the bank — the company expects profits to hit £165 million after securing £410 million of test-and-trace contracts.

Serco has been singled out by Rachel Reeves, (pictured) the Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, for being one of the biggest private provider of Government services

Predictably, Reeves is incensed: ‘If the Government can’t bear to curb its obsession with pouring money into big companies over our local public health teams, it surely can see that this wasteful approach lacks basic common sense and isn’t reducing the transmission of the virus. It’s time to sack Serco.’

Which is all very well. But I can’t help but wonder why she isn’t urging Labour to do the same.

After all, Serco has multi-million pound contracts with Labour councils including Hounslow, Milton Keynes, Newham and North Tyneside. 

And surely Ms Reeves — the MP for Leeds West — is aware that Serco signed a five-year £1 million contract with Leeds City Council in June?

Overheard in the Commons: Two Labour MPs talking about the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is taking a three-month sabbatical. 

As an Anglican, I welcome a three-month break from Justin Welby.’

 How Alex left Ted red-faced 

Sir Alex Allan, who resigned as Boris Johnson’s ministerial standards adviser when the PM refused to sack Home Secretary Priti Patel over bullying allegations, has form for embarrassing Tory chiefs.

When Ted Heath was leader in 1966, he decided to court the youth vote by being photographed on a skateboard.

Sir Alex Allan, who resigned as Boris Johnson's ministerial standards adviser when the PM refused to sack Home Secretary Priti Patel over bullying allegations

Sir Alex Allan, who resigned as Boris Johnson’s ministerial standards adviser when the PM refused to sack Home Secretary Priti Patel over bullying allegations

Alex, then 15, whose father Robert was Heath’s chief of staff, duly supplied a skateboard. 

The result? Heath could not have looked more awkward if he’d turned up at Prime Minister’s Questions on a unicycle.

There has been endless speculation that Sajid Javid, who quit as Chancellor in February, may return to the Cabinet in the next reshuffle. 

It’s unclear which role he could be offered, but what we do know is that accepting it would mean a huge pay cut. 

In addition to his £82,000 MP’s salary he is paid £150,000 by merchant bank JP Morgan, and £151,835 from a California artificial intelligence firm.

Cabinet ministers earn about £150,000.

After the messy fallout following the departure of Dominic Cummings from Downing Street, one thing is for sure: we cannot put it down to a lack of high-tech gadgetry. 

I can reveal No 10 ordered 320 iPhones, costing £135,552. 

The 24-month lease deal with Insight Direct (UK) Limited means taxpayers are paying £423.60 to rent each phone.

After veteran Labour MP Dame Margaret Beckett became the chairman of the party’s NEC last week, a dwindling band of Jeremy Corbyn supporters dramatically ‘walked out’ of the digital meeting. 

Yes, it was all rather petty. But it did at least prove that there are some benefits to holding online meetings. 

In the 1980s, when Neil Kinnock was Labour leader, an angry Eric Heffer stormed out of an NEC meeting and slammed the door behind him. 

Three minutes later, he sheepishly emerged. It was the bathroom. 

Damien, Kari and his teenage kicks

Chatting with Radiohead, who were appearing as witnesses in a Commons Culture Committee hearing into the music industry, Tory MP Damian Green mentioned that the first record he ever bought was Roxy Music’s debut album. 

One wonders what might possibly have recommended the 1972 release, which featured Bond girl Kari-Ann Muller posing seductively on the cover, to the teenage Green. 

Later, committee chairman Julian Knight MP owned up to buying Baggy Trousers by Madness at Woolworths. 

Tory MP Damian Green mentioned that the first record he ever bought was Roxy Music's debut album (pictured)

Tory MP Damian Green mentioned that the first record he ever bought was Roxy Music’s debut album (pictured) 


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