Brexit minister uses vital decision day to tweet crude vacuum cleaner joke

Brexit minister Chris Heaton-Harris. Photograph: House of Commons.

Brexit minister Chris Heaton-Harris. Photograph: House of Commons. - Credit: Archant

With the Commons facing a day of vital votes on Theresa May's deal, a Brexit minister has tweeted a lewd joke about a vacuum cleaner.

MPs are today preparing to vote on amendments to May's Brexit deal that could shape the next stage of negotiations with the EU.

Amendments, including proposals to rule out leaving the EU with no deal or to delay Brexit from its scheduled date of March 29, have been tabled, with a potentially heavy day of voting.

So Chris Heaton-Harris, a parliamentary under-secretary of state in the Brexit department, has been busy tweeting an off-colour joke about a vacuum cleaner to his 16,000 followers.

He said: 'My Mate [sic] got one of those Dyson Ball Cleaners in the sales. Unfortunately, he misunderstood what it was for; which is why I'm now taking him to our local A & E.'

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The quip was met with a combination of those questioning whether Heaton-Harris had nothing better to do, and those debating whether he had stolen it from Tim Vine or 1980s satire Not the Nine O'Clock News.

Bernard Crofton replied: 'Nice to see that with chaos about to engulf the country, entirely their fault, the Conservatives are concentrating on the essentials: schoolboy jokes.'

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And artist Marlon Kameka said: 'Glad to see the MP who works in the Department for Exiting the European Union is taking Brexit so seriously.'

Others noted it ironically came days after Brexiteer businessman Sir James Dyson announced he was to relocate his head office from the UK to Singapore.

Heaton-Harris was previously best known for being the Tory MP who wrote to universities across the UK asking for the names of lecturers teaching courses on Brexit and the content of their lessons.

He wrote to vice-chancellors asking for the names of any professors involved in teaching European affairs 'with particular reference to Brexit'.

His letter then asked for 'a copy of the syllabus' and any online lectures on Brexit.

He was accused at the time of 'McCarthyite' tactics by academics who said it was an assault on free speech.

Heaton-Harris was defended at the time by then universities minister Jo Johnson, who said he was doing research for a book, although no book has yet been published.

It would be his first book since 2012's Together Against Wind: A Step by Step Guide on Opposing a Wind Farm in Your Area, currently available for £3.69 on Amazon. He is also the author of Fighting the Kelmarsh Wind Farm (99p on Kindle).

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