Steerpike

Watch: Starmer’s Beergate burn

Watch: Starmer's Beergate burn
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It's Queen's Speech day in parliament today and in traditional style, two lucky government MPs have been chosen to propose and second the Loyal Address to Her Majesty. This involves two backbenchers – one typically older, the other a newly-elected type – delivering a humorous speech ostensibly on the government's legislative agenda but which actually riffs on various issues of the day. 

And so it fell to Graham Stuart, a 17-year parliamentary veteran, to kick things off this afternoon with a well-received performance poking fun at Sir Keir Starmer's difficulties over 'Beergate.' He began by joking that 'never has so much karma come from a korma' before referencing the Tories' past gains in Labour's traditional Red Wall, quipping that, for Sir Keir 'the only thing opening up for him in the north of England is a police investigation.'

Then it was the turn of Fay Jones, a member of the 2019 intake who hails from the Welsh constituency of Brecon and Radnorshire. She gave a worthy speech, dedicated in large part to her support for more female MPs and local farmers in her area. This gave her an excuse to make a quip at the expense of Neil Parish, who quit the Commons after being caught watching porn in parliament – despite claiming he was looking for images of tractors. 

Listing the government's achievements on farming, Jones concluded with praise of the Online Safety Bill because it will 'protect the unsuspecting farmer from nefarious internet videos.' Winding up her speech, she also included another jibe at Starmer's decision to duck an engagement yesterday as he tried to work out his story on Beergate: 'I give way to the Leader of the Opposition – I know we are all delighted he hasn't cancelled this afternoon's speech.'

Sir Keir's turn at the despatch box also started with a decent quip, referencing other events of the past week. Leaping up, he noted Labour's capture of Westminster city council for the first time ever: 'I want to congratulate the Prime Minister – he has achieved a first. The first member of Downing Street to be served by a Labour council!' Cue cheers and groans all round.

Written bySteerpike

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

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