After 18 months of Zoom, Westminster is back. Last night hacks, politicians, lobbyists and kebab shop owners came together in the name of kebabs. In what the Prime Minister described in a special video message as ‘Westminster’s most hotly anticipated culinary event of the year’, an unlikely group assembled including the new education secretary Nadhim Zahawi, former Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn, Labour frontbencher Rosena Allin-Khan and Barry Gardiner, fresh from his debut at Tory conference.
While the evening began on a serious note – with a minute’s silence for the late Sir David Amess – it quickly moved to the power of grilled meat. Allin-Khan raised a few eyebrows even among kebab lovers when she declared that it was 'kebabs' that got NHS staff through the pandemic. But in a sign that Starmer and his new team are failing to set the heather on fire, Mr S was intrigued to see that it was Jeremy Corbyn who drew the biggest crowd – with guests circling the independent MP for selfies.
Two years ago, Corbyn made headlines by declaring his favourite kebab was a falafel wrap. What of the leaders of tomorrow? During a round of the tables, Mr S learnt they are more meat-minded. Corbynite MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP says his is Greek Gyro, salad and a drizzle of mayonnaise and garlic sauce, Kim Leadbeater – MP for Batley and Spen – goes for a Chicken Tikka kebab, while on the blue benches Dehenna Davison – MP for Bishop Auckland – is Lamb Kofta with lettuce, onions and garlic sauce (no spice) and Matt Warman, the former minister, goes for... fish and chips.
So, with Labour suggesting Boris Johnson ought to activate his Covid Plan B, surely caution was the word of the day? Apparently not. Mr S couldn’t help but notice that despite the virtue signalling from the Labour benches about wearing masks, nearly all the MPs in attendance were notably bare faced throughout the evening. Saying one thing but doing another? Surely not.