Ben Dean-Titterrell

Politics and beer

Category: Politics

Parliamentary Roasts of the Week: W/C 16/07/18

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Chamber of the House of Commons” by UK Parliament / CC BY 3.0 / Fire are 100 emojis placed upon original image

In an attempt to prove that the least appreciated of the UK’s age-old parliamentary conventions is MPs and Peers roasting each other, I’ve started a new project for this blog. Every week I’ll aim to bring you the best quips, one-liners, and straight fire roasts dished out in the Palace of Westminster.

W/C 16/07/18

We’re kicking off this week with a look at PMQs, one of the most reliable sources of Parliamentary roasts. This week, however, was a significant dissapointment. There wasn’t a single good joke in the exchanges between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. The only passably decent jab from anyone in the whole session was from the SNP’s Ian Blackford.

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“[…]a Prime Minister who is in office but not in power[…]”

This isn’t even good to be honest. In a regular week we wouldn’t even feature it, but this session was so devoid of good banter that this is the highlight.

ROAST RATING: ONE OUT OF FIVE

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It’s now Thursday and the new Brexit Secratary Dominic Raab is anwering questions from MPs. All fairly run of the mill until Conservative MP Chris Green unleashes what I’m sure he thought was a truly savage roast.

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“Does my right hon. Friend agree that to have a second referendum would undermine the democratic process and that anyone calling in this place for a second referendum should perhaps step down, have a by-election and ask for a second opinion on themselves?”

‘Got em! You like second referendums, huh? Well how do you like second elections? Huh?! How do you like them apples?’ – Chris Green’s internal monologue, probably

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Bonus House of Lords Roast

The Commons was so devoid of roasts this week that we’re forced to turn to the House of Lords to see if there’s anyone spitting fire in the Palace of Westminster. I was only able to have a quick look through, but I found one quip worthy of inclusion from Labour’s Lord Touhig on Monday on the NATO summit.

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“However, to date transatlantic unity is undermined by the President of the United States. We never know what Mr Trump will say next—and, frankly, I suspect that nor does Mr Trump.”

It’s not imaginative; yeah we get it Trump’s stupid. But the delivery was good and, frankly, I’m clutching at straws this week. Lord Touhig’s our first Peer roaster, and until we have another he holds the honourary title of Lord of Roasts.

ROAST RATING: TWO OUT OF FIVE

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Roaster of the week

The last thing to do is crown our Roaster of the Week. He seemed so damn pleased with his effort that it would unfair to give it to anyone but Chris Green.

My time may not be particularly valuable, but it certainly is limited. If you’ve spotted a roast in Parliament that you think is worthy of being included in Roast of the Week, let me know by contacting me.

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Parliamentary Roasts of the Week: W/C 09/07/18

Head image

Chamber of the House of Commons” by UK Parliament / CC BY 3.0 / Fire are 100 emojis placed upon original image

In an attempt to prove that the least appreciated of the UK’s age-old parliamentary conventions is MPs and Peers roasting each other, I’ve started a new project for this blog. Every week I’ll aim to bring you the best quips, one-liners, and straight fire roasts dished out in the Palace of Westminster.

W/C 09/07/18

Kicking things off with the first ever Parliamentary Roast of the Week is this fire from Jeremy Corbyn in response to the Prime Minister’s statement on Brexit from Monday. With David Davis and Boris Johnson resigning their cabinet posts within the proceeding 24 hours of the PM’s statement, Theresa May was a sitting duck.

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“To be fair—I want to be fair to the former Brexit Secretary and the former Foreign Secretary—I think they would have resigned on the spot on Friday, but they were faced with a very long walk, no phone and, due to Government cuts, no bus service either. So I think they were probably wise to hang on for a couple of days so they could get a lift home in a Government car.”

Corbyn’s jab landed on David Davis, Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, and the government more widely. One roast, four hits.

ROAST RATING: THREE OUT OF FIVE
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Theresa May didn’t hold back in her response to the Leader of the Opposition on Monday, giving back some banter of her own. Under that much pressure, the heat of the roasts she got in was admirable.

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“The right honourable Gentleman has been in this House for quite a long time, and I know that he will have heard many statements. The normal response to a statement is to ask some questions. I do not think that there were any questions anywhere in that; nevertheless I will—[Interruption.]”

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“At the beginning of his response, he thanked me for giving him early sight of my statement. It is just a pity that he obviously did not bother to read it.”

I’ve included two quotes here from May’s reply. (The custom will be to treat any roasts in the same contribution as part of a larger encompassing roast.) Both coming in hot on the banter-metre. Lots of thinking on the feet action here.

ROAST RATING: THREE OUT OF FIVE
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Someone I didn’t expect to ever feature in Roasts of the Week was Iain Duncan Smith. The quiet man made a quip about the Labour leader and his shadow cabinet. A well-worn road to go down if you’re looking to roast Jeremy Corbyn, but the delivery was strong.

https://videoplayback.parliamentlive.tv/Player/Index/eab0ae9f-688b-4633-93c3-6ccd28696dad?in=2018-07-09T15%3A58%3A02%2B01%3A00&out=2018-07-09T15%3A58%3A17%2B01%3A00&audioOnly=False&autoStart=False&statsEnabled=True

“Whatever one’s view might be on the plan that my right honourable Friend has been talking about, I urge her not to accept a single recommendation from the Leader of the Opposition, as nobody else in his party does so.”

For the sheer achievement of even making it into Roasts of the Week, something he may never manage again, IDS gets our highest rating so far.

ROAST RATING: FOUR OUT OF FIVE
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This Wednesday featured a rare PMQs session in which the Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition didn’t feature. Instead, they sent stand-ins, Cabinet Minister David Lidington took Theresa May’s role and Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornbery took the Leader of the Opposition’s place. Thornberry came straight out of the block with a football themed shot at the Government.

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“Let me wish Gareth Southgate and the England team the best of luck for this match and hopefully for the final on Sunday. I may know very little about football, but even I can see that England’s progress so far at the World cup shows what can be achieved when all the individual players work effectively as a team, when there is a clear game plan, when they are all working together and, of course, when everyone respects and listens to the manager. Can I simply ask the Minister what lessons he thinks the England team could teach this shambles of a Government?”

This one’s a little long winded. I also feel it could have been better the other way round (i.e. ‘what could the government learn from the England team?’) But, could be worse and its certainly topical.

ROAST RATING: TWO OUT OF FIVE

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Another go from Thornberry here at PMQs. More jabs at the Cabinet and Government more widly. All her roasts so far have been focused on government dismay, plenty of material to work with.

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“May I ask the Minister once again the question I asked him at PMQs in December 2016, when he compared Labour’s shadow Cabinet to “Mutiny on the Bounty” remade by the “Carry On” team. By those standards, what would he describe his lot now as—perhaps “Reservoir Dogs” remade by the Chuckle Brothers?”

This is funny, fair play to whoever thought this one up. Turns out this isn’t even the first time the Chuckle Brothers have been mentioned in Parliament, it’s actually the fourth. Better stuff here from the Shadow Foreign Secratary.

ROAST RATING: THREE OUT OF FIVE

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David Lidington didn’t throw many banter punches in during his exchanges with Emily Thornberry, but he got one roast in right as the PMQs session started.

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“Finally, I am sure that all Members, whichever part of the United Kingdom they come from, would join me in congratulating Gareth Southgate and the England team on their fantastic performance in the quarter-final on Saturday, and in wishing them the very best for this evening’s match against Croatia. I will happily buy the right hon. Member for Islington South and Finsbury (Emily Thornberry) a flag to help her to join in.”

Blink and you’ll miss it, this is a poke at Thonrberry’s resignation from her position as Shadow Attorney General in 2014 after posting a photograph of a house in Rochester adorned with England flags. Niche, but a fairly fire roast here.

ROAST RATING: THREE OUT OF FIVE

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That’s all the roasts we’ve got time for this week, all that remains is to crown our Roaster of the Week. As he may never have the chance to win this covetted acolade again, I have to give the innaugral Roaster of the Week award to Iain Duncan Smith.

My time may not be particulalry valuable, but it certainly is limited. If you’ve spotted a roast in Parliament that you think is worthy of being included in Roast of the Week, let me know by contacting me.

Bernard Jenkin weekly: An update

Anyone who pays any kind of attention to this blog (that’s pretty much no one but let’s pretend like there is someone out there) will notice that Bernard Jenkin weekly has not been updated in over a month.

I have found updating this blog particularly difficult during this term of uni. I fell a couple of weeks behind, neglected to rectify the situation, and before I knew it I have half a dozen missing installments.

I’ve decided to put Bernard Jenkin weekly on hold for the time being. It’s time consuming, kind of monotonous, and, to be honest, not very enjoyable. So for the foreseeable future I’ll be doing something else with this blog.

I’ve got another project planned, one that will certainly be more enjoyable (not to give too much away but involves drinking a lot of beer). I expect to start that new project in the next few weeks so keep your eyes peeled. You never know, someone might actually start reading what I write one day.

Bernard Jenkin weekly: No.13

Week 30 January – 5 February

In a week when MPs voted overwhelmingly to give the government power to activate Article 50, thousands joined protests around the world against President Trump’s travel ban, and a judge in Seattle suspended the travel ban nationwide across America, what did Bernard Jenkin do?

Speeches and written questions

Mr Jenkin spoke many times in Parliament this week, mainly when he made a statement to the House of Commons in his role as chair of the Public Administration and Consitutional Affairs Committee.

First however he contributed to a debate on Brexit on Thursday 2 February. He asked the Brexit Secretary David Davis whether after activating Article 50 the government will “take that opportunity to frame the negotiation by making it clear that we expect to agree the framework of our future relationship, as specified in article 50?” Mr David replied by saying that Mr Jenkin was quite right and the issue he raised would be thew first the government would need to resolve at the beginning of the negotiations.

Later that day Mr Jenkin made his statement to the House as chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, the statement focused on the committees recently published report into the National Health Service. Mr Jenkin started his statement by laying out how the NHS has consistently made the same mistakes repeatedly over the last several years despite multiple reports into the problems within the organisation.

“In its report “Learning from Mistakes”, which was published last year, the Public Health Service Ombudsman highlighted the fear of blame that is pervasive throughout the NHS. That fear drives defensive responses and inhibits open investigations, which in turn prevents NHS organisations from understanding what went wrong and why. That also undermines public trust and confidence, because the public can see that NHS organisations are failing to learn from mistakes—if they did, that would drive improvement.”

The MP for Harwich and North Essex said the committee’s report “Will the NHS never learn?” concluded that “if the Department of Health is to achieve its policy of turning the NHS into a learning organisation, it must integrate its various initiatives to tackle the issue and come up with a long-term and co-ordinated strategy. That strategy must include a clear plan for building up local investigative capability, as the vast majority of investigations take place locally. We will hold the Secretary of State for Health accountable for delivering the plan.

Mr Jenkin also commented on the establishment of the Health Services Investigations Branch, “The Government accepted our recommendation, and HSIB is due to be launched in April. It will conduct investigations into the most serious clinical incidents, and is intended to offer a safe space to allow those involved in such incidents to speak openly and frankly about what happened.”

He brought his statement to a close by expressing his hope that the government will implement the committees recommendations, “There is an acute need for the Government to follow through on their commitment to promote a culture in which staff feel able to speak out and in which the emphasis is placed on learning, not blame. I very much hope that they will implement PACAC’s recommendations as a step towards achieving that as soon as possible.”

Mr Jenkin then took several questions from other members on the committee’s report, one of which came from Labour MP Justin Madders. He first said Labour welcomed the report and thanked those who contributed to it before asking about delaying the launch of HSIB, “To give HSIB the strongest start, it was the clear view of the Committee, HSIB, the Expert Advisory Group, HSIB’s chief investigator and even the Minister himself that legislation is needed, but, as of today, no legislation has been forthcoming. Given that, does the Chair of the Committee agree that it might be better to delay implementation to allow time for legislation?”

Mr Jenkin replied, “The answer is, as the hon. Gentleman suggests, for the Government to bring forward the legislation as quickly as possible. I know that efforts are being made in that direction, but perhaps the Minister will have something to tell us.”

Voting record

Mr Jenkin voted three times this week all on 1 February regarding the bill to give the government the power to activate Article 50.

He voted: against a proposed SNP amendment to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill that would decline giving the Bill a second reading; for a motion to give the Bill a second reading; and for setting out a three day programme for moving the Bill onto a third reading.

Mr Jenkin was loyal to the government and voted with the majority on all three votes.

Select Committees

None of the committees Mr Jenkin sits on carried out any oral evidence sessions this week.

Bernard Jenkin weekly: No.12

Week 23 January – 29 January

In a week when Donald Trump signed an Executive border banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, Theresa May visited the new US president at the White House, and the Supreme Court ruled that MPs must be allowed to vote on the activation of Article 50 before Brexit negotiations have begun, what did Bernard Jenkin do?

Speeches and written questions

Mr Jenkin made four contributions in Parliament this week on four separate issues, the first of these coming on Monday during a statement by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon on reports of the misfiring of a Trident missile during a test operation.

Mr Jenkin rose to ask Mr Fallon whether it wasn’t ironic that many MPs who had already spoken and expressed concern about any possible lack of credibility of the deterrent when some of them do not believe in the concept of a deterrent in the first place. He added, “It would be unwise of the Russians or any other potential adversary to suggest that they could take the risk of invading this or that country on the basis that we might have a misfire of one of our missiles.”

The Defence Secretary replied to Mr Jenkin by saying that he agreed with him and expressing his pleasure that the overwhelming majority of MPs voted to maintain the deterrent last year.

Mr Jenkin’s next contribution in the House of Commons came the following day during a session of questions to the Brexit Secretary David Davis following the Supreme Court’s Article 50 ruling. While fellow Conservative MP Anna Soubry was asking a question she said “The reality is that we have abandoned the single market and the free movement of people without any debate in this place, never mind a vote.”

In response to this Mr Jenkin said “We had a referendum.” Following the MP for Harwich and North Essex’s interjection Ms Soubry replied “Well, there was one question on the paper: leave or remain. We are leaving the European Union—that is accepted.” and continued with her question to the Brexit Secretary.

Later on the same day Mr Jenkin made a more substantial contribution during a debate on appointing the new Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and Health Service Commissioner for England. In his speech he spoke of the history and purpose of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

He also spoke about what the PHSO must do in the future, “The PHSO must improve the quality and speed of its investigations. It must implement technological change. It must adapt to the way in which people in our society expect a complaints process to work, and it must better retain and engage its staff in order to do so. It must do all that while reducing costs and overheads.”

Mr Jenkin concluded by saying he believed the candidate for the roles of Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and Health Service Commissioner for England, Rob Behrens, had the skills to be successful and that he looked forward to working with him in the future.

Mr Jenkin’s last contribution of the week came when asking a question to David Jones, Minister of State in the Department for Exiting the European Union, about farming regulations post-Brexit. He asked the Minister how the government will “approach the regulations and directives that will be created and implemented between now and the date we leave the European Union?” Mr Jones replied to Mr Jenkin by saying “The great repeal Bill will absorb the body of EU law into British law. Once we have left the European Union, we will be in a position to review all that legislation and take the decisions that are best for British agriculture.”

Voting record

Bernard Jenkin voted six times this week on a variety of issues.

On 24 January Mr Jenkin voted three times on three different issues. He voted: for a motion put forward by fellow Conservative MP Chris Philip to bring forward a bill to regulate industrial action by those providing certain critical national services; against a proposed opposition amendment to an earlier Lords amendment to the Wales Bill which would have changed the maximum charge of gaming machines under regulations in Wales; and for a motion that would approve the Charter for Budget Responsibility: autumn 2016 update.

On 25 January Mr Jenkin voted another three times on another three issues. He voted: for approving the draft Bank of England and Financial Services (Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2017; against a proposed opposition motion that would have called on the Government to reduce overcrowding and improve safety while still ensuring that those people who should be in prison are in prison; and against a proposed opposition motion that would have called on the Government to ensure that all schools have the funding that they need to provide an excellent education for every child.

Mr Jenkin was loyal to the government on all six votes this week. He voted with the majority on all but the first division he voted on this week.

Select committees

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee was the only one to carry out any oral evidence sessions this week. The committee carried out one hearing on the structure and organisation of the Civil Service.

On 24 January the committee questioned Rupert Soames, Chief Executive and Serco and public services specialist. As chair of the committee Mr Jenkin led the questioning.

Bernard Jenkin weekly: No.11

Week 16 January – 22 January

In a week when Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States, Theresa May outlined her negotiating objectives and a twelve point plan for Brexit in a speech at Lancaster House, and Jeremy Corbyn said he will order Labour MPs to vote in favour of triggering Article 50, what did Bernard Jenkin do?

Speeches and written questions

Mr Jenkin spoke twice in Parliament this week, both times on Thursday 19 January.

His first contribution was to raise the issue of the Supreme Court judgement due on 24 January on whether Parliament must vote on the triggering of Article 50. He suggested to the Leader of the House, David Lidington, that the government should make a statement to the House immediately following the judgement.

The Leader of the House replied that though he could make promises at that point about the timing of any statement, and that the implications of whatever the Supreme Court rules are of yet unknown, he agreed in principle with what Mr Jenkin suggested.

Later on the same day Mr Jenkin made his second contribution to the House of Commons.

He asked a question to the Prime Minister following her statement to the House on the previous weeks European Council meeting. He asked whether the UK would offer free trade in any deal it put forward to the EU in Brexit negotiations. The MP for Harwich and North Essex also asked in the same contribution if the Prime Minister would ask why anyone in the EU was suggesting a reversion back to protectionism.

The PM replied by saying Mr Jenkin was raising a very important issue but avoided the idea of offering free trade to EU negotiators, saying instead, “what we want to focus on is the outcome: the best possible deal in terms of trading with and operating within the European Union.”

Voting record

Mr Jenkin voted once this week on a deferred division.

On 19 January he voted: for approving the draft Combined Authorities (Mayoral Elections) Order 2017, which had first been laid before the house last November.

Select committees

Two of the committees Mr Jenkin sits on carried out oral evidence sessions this week, both on Friday 20 December.

Firstly the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee carried out a session in which they questioned Sir David Norgrove to scrutinise his suitability for Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, for which he is the preferred candidate. As Chair of the committee, Mr Jenkin led the proceedings.

Later on the same day Mr Jenkin was part of a Liaison Committee hearing which put questions to the Prime Minister on two issues. Firstly on the main issue of Brexit, and secondly on health and social car spending.

Bernard Jenkin weekly: No.10

Week 12 December – 18 December

In a week when Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria launched a devastating assault on Aleppo,  Theresa May was not invited to a dinner of EU leaders during a summit on Thursday, and Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox put in an £11.7 billion bid to take full control of Sky, what did Bernard Jenkin do?

Speeches and written questions

Bernard Jenkin did not make any contributions in any parliamentary debates this week.

Voting record

Mr Jenkin voted four times this week.

On 12 December he voted: against a proposed amendment that would place a duty on HMRC to review annually the impact of Lifetime ISAs on automatic enrolment in workplace pensions; against a proposed amendment that would remove the provision for Lifetime ISAs from the Bill; against a proposed amendment that would allow a credit union to provide a Help-to-Save account; and for approving the draft Coasting Schools (England) Regulations 2016.

Select committees

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee was the only committee Mr Jenkin sits on that carried out any oral evidence hearings this week. The committee questioned representatives from the Electoral Commission about the role and purpose of referendums.