Boris Johnson may be focusing on the NHS backlog but for some of his parliamentary colleagues there's another logjam to be addressed: an excess of invites to belated summer shindigs. Among the various soirees flying around, one caught Steerpike's eye: the All Party Parliamentary Group on China's reception next Wednesday on the Commons terrace pavilion.
The guest of honour at the wine-fuelled bash will be none other than the Chinese ambassador to the UK Zheng Zeguang, Beijing's man in London. The APPG on China is chaired by Tory Richard Graham but understandably the invitation sent by his group has naturally not gone down well with those Conservative colleagues sanctioned by the regime earlier this year. One parliamentary source confided to Mr S there was 'disquiet' at such a high profile figure being entertained on the estate.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, who was one of the aforementioned Tory trio, told Steerpike he was 'horrified' by the invitation and intends to raise the issue in a Point of Order later tonight in the House of Commons chamber. The former Conservative leader is part of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, whose co-ordinator Luke de Poulford said: 'Will anything prick the consciences of Xi's fans in Westminster? Uyghur genocide? Nope. Destroyed treaty with Hong Kong? Nope. Covid cover up? Nope. No shame is too great – not even the ludicrous sanctioning of their own parliamentary colleagues.'
Let's hope the ambassador doesn't take a wrong turn at the reception and run into certain disgruntled Tory backbenchers.