Steerpike Steerpike

Penny Mordaunt takes a dig at the Old Etonians

(Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

It’s Christmas party season in Westminster and tonight it was the turn of the Adam Smith Institute to do the honours. The free market think tank turned to Penny Mordaunt for her now-traditional turn on the seasonal circuit. Steerpike’s sources tell him that the Leader of the House writes most of the gags that she deploys at Business Questions. And tonight was no exception as she expounded the merits of the festive goods available in parliament:

We are well into the first advent week but it is not too late, folks, to get an advent calendar if you’ve not got one already. And I’m just going to give you a quick plug if you don’t mind of the House of Commons gift shop and what we have on special offer in there, because we do have some lovely discounted advent calendars. We have an HS2 — I don’t recommend it, it’s very overpriced and it only has enough chocolate to get you through to the second week of advent. We have a Labour Autumn Statement advent calendar — which looks fabulous, but on closer inspection there are no numbers. But my favourite, and my recommendation to you, is a creative collaboration by all the Old Etonians in parliament. It looks like an ordinary advent calendar but all the doors have been opened for you by your dads’ friends.

Mordaunt certainly wasn’t shy about her own Christmas wish list for the government, setting forth her own new year resolutions for ministerial colleagues: ‘We’ve got to reform business rates, we have got to tackle VAT thresholds and personal taxation thresholds, we need to reduce taxes on capital and transactions, taxes that are holding up so much positive economic opportunity and activity.’ Good luck Jezza!

Elsewhere across town, Tom Tugendhat was rivalling his fellow One Nation Tory in the oratorical stakes.

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Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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