Maybot has finally morphed into Lino: Leader in Name Only

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Nothing Theresa May says can be relied upon as fact and ministers are terrified that defending her would make them look foolish

Monday

There was one minister at least who was delighted by the Speaker’s surprise declaration that the government would not be able to bring a third meaningful vote unless the motion was substantially different from the one that had been heavily defeated on two previous occasions. Step forward Kwasi Kwarteng, the most junior member of the Brexit department. A man whose sole function is to know even less than Steve Barclay and Robin Walker, his more senior ministers. A job he does with commendable diligence, as the receptionist at the Brexit department is more clued up than he is. But even Kwarteng must have realised something was up and that he had been handed a hospital pass when Barclay and Walker hurriedly remembered subsequent engagements and left him to answer an urgent question on the government’s proposals for an extension to Article 50. Tory Justine Greening began the evisceration with a devastating take down of the prime minister’s evasiveness that culminated in the observation that his boss was hardly the right person to lead the negotiations as, after closing the debate for the government the previous week, he had promptly voted against himself. After that it was just a pile on from all sides, with MPs openly wondering if he agreed with what he was saying from the despatch box, and Kwarteng literally had no answers to anything. His best explanation for Barclay’s errant voting habits was that it was such an easy mistake he had made it himself. The nadir came when he said “the government will lie ... ” I think he meant to say “lay”, but never underestimate the power of the Freudian slip. However, because of John Bercow’s intervention Kwarteng’s humiliation escaped almost unnoticed. Something I am now happy to rectify.

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