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Rats in a Sack: Tory MP Afriyie’s smoking gun

Our digest of the worst of Westminster looks at Reform UK, Andrea Jenkyns, Liz Truss and more

Image: Getty

One of the strongest opponents of Rishi Sunak’s proposed smoking ban is Adam Afriyie, Conservative MP for Windsor and one-time ‘Tory Barack Obama’. He told the Commons this week: “I do not know how we have got into this state. It is so unnecessary. There are so many more important things to be doing in the world at the moment, yet now we are in this place.

“If this Bill somehow gets through with Labour’s support – of course, Labour always love bans; I get that and that is fine. Forgive me for being political, but it is ridiculous to have our prime minister, who has enough things to deal with, putting through a Bill, with Labour’s support. Why on earth do that at this stage?”.

Unrelated fact: the House of Commons Register of Members’ Interests records that in September last year, Afriyie received a trip to South Korea worth £8,384.88 for a “speech and panel on the UK legislative environment” to the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum, the body for the fag-peddling industry.

Eyebrows were raised this week when Reform UK put out a press release calling “for Sunak to prescribe Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps”. Leader Richard Tice, it went on, “called for the prime minister to prescribe the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps after Iran’s missile attacks aimed at Israel.

Images were conjured of unlikely trips to the pharmacy only for Reform to clarify later that, er, they meant “proscribe”.

Finger-giving Conservative MP Andrea Jenkyns was furious this week when officials in Brussels shut down a National Conservatism conference starring the likes of Nigel Farage and Suella Braverman. “Outrageous!,” she wrote on Twitter/X. “The lefty woke brigade strikes again, shutting down #NatConBrussels2! True Conservatives are being silenced. This censorship is a slap in the face of democracy. We must stand strong!”.

Jenkyns is, of course, a fan of the National Conservatives. What happens if it’s a gathering she doesn’t agree with – say, a march in London last month protesting the actions of the Israeli government in Gaza?

“We need action, ban blooming hate marches, drag them off the street, and lock them up!” she wrote.

Lee Anderson, GB News presenter, former Conservative deputy chair and Reform MP for Ashfield, has finally told an expectant nation which Tory MPs he won’t be campaigning against come the general election.

They are Ben Bradley, Brendan Clarke-Smith, Marco Longhi and Nick Fletcher. “These people are my friends and the ones that reached out to me last month,” says Anderson. “They will always be my friends and because of this I will not campaign against them in their parliamentary seats.”

And what a line-up! Bradley has suggested those who claim benefits (a “vast sea of unemployed wasters”) should have vasectomies so other taxpayers don’t have to pay to provide for their children and claimed free school meal vouchers effectively handed cash directly to crack dens and brothels. Clarke-Smith has similarly described food banks as a “political weapon”, saying it is “simply not true” that “people can’t afford to buy food on a regular basis”, as well as working himself up into a tizz about England footballers taking the knee.

Longhi is president of Turning Point UK, a hard right pressure group that claims to “champion patriotism and British culture” but in reality just gets weirdly angry about drag acts. He has called for Steve Bray to be “locked up in the Tower with a loudspeaker playing Land of Hope and Glory on repeat at maximum volume”. Fletcher, meanwhile, is best known for attributing a rise in crime among young men to the casting of a female Doctor Who.

God forbid Parliament be denied the benefit of this brains trust!

Anderson – named as ‘Lee Andersin’ on a Reform leaflet this week – has also been very vocal in his criticism of Nike’s new England football shirt, with its ever-so-slightly altered England flag.

“When I bang on about ‘we want our country back’, this is exactly the sort of woke, namby-pamby, pearl-clutching, hand-wringing nonsense that I’m talking about,” he fumed on GB News.

The MP is also a leading member of the Popular Conservatism movement (which is different from National Conservatism, keep up). Here’s the Union flag in their logo:

Much hilarity at the Daily Star, which made international headlines when it live-streamed the lettuce which outlived Liz Truss’ inept tenure in Downing Street, as the short-lived PM attributed the prank to “the London elite” and “people in wine bars in London”.

“I very much doubt that Jon [Clark, Star editor] has ever set foot in a wine bar in London,” says one staffer at the paper. “He likes a mixed grill.”

While Truss’ book has been roundly rubbished, at least one voice at Westminster thought it was essential reading.

“Truss has quite brilliantly laid bare exactly what the ‘Deep State’ is and the unaccountable institutional, corporate and governmental roadblocks which exist to changing the status quo,” wrote the Daily Express’ David Maddox.

“She has exposed the way that politicians – those we elect to govern the country – have been denuded of power and are subject to the whims of unelected elites. How democracy itself has been subverted.

“Her warnings really make clear that the very ideas and principles which drove Brexit will still be thwarted unless she is heeded. The 2016 referendum will have been for nothing.”

Yet another reason for the Independent’s predominantly young, left-leaning staff to look forward to Maddox joining them as political editor once he’s worked out his notice at the Express!

Fun fact: Maddox was also in South Korea last year for the aforementioned Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum gig, advising the fag-peddlers on how they can get better press.

Last week this column noted the attendees at Nigel Farage’s 60th birthday party and suggested it may have been a Guinness World Records attempt for the most terrible people in one room.

Liz Truss’ book launch, however, offered stiff competition. Among attendees at the Spectator’s offices were Tory MPs including Suella Braverman, Jake Berry, Andrea Jenkyns and Andrew Rosindell, Reform’s Lee Anderson and Richard Tice, Brexit negotiator David ‘Frosty’ Frost, Dan Wootton and the client hacks who still insist she was right about everything, including the Telegraph’s Allister Heath, Sherelle Jacobs and Camilla Tominey and, of course, Maddox.

Ukip held its leadership hustings this week, with more than 300 people tuning in to YouTube to watch Bill Etheridge and Lois Perry debate Covid conspiracies, the return of hanging and various other crackpot policies under the goading chairmanship of TalkTV loudmouth Andre Walker.

Walker used the opportunity to gather support for what he admits is his “personal hobby horse”, a new criminal offence of “conspiracy to prohibit free speech on university campuses, punishable by five years in prison”.

Both candidates were enthusiastic. Etheridge said: “Free speech is the very bedrock of our society and I’m all for that and much more. The police should be forced to do it and go in there and fine the people and make sure they take punishment.”

Perry, however, was concerned it could be stymied by, er, the height, weight and gender of the police. “I think the problem with the police is that they’ve all come through the woke education system and so – again, I keep going back to my childhood – the police that used to be on the streets, they looked like proper policemen. Now you’ve got, like, four-foot fat women. I mean, it’s embarrassing.”

“Four-foot fat women is my only joy on a Saturday night,” responded Walker.

With Sadiq Khan coming under fire for the state of London’s nightlife – 1,100 bars and clubs have shut in the last three years – Labour activist and former deputy council leader Ian Barnes took to Twitter/X to defend the capital’s mayor.

“Tories: Sadiq has killed nightlife in London!,” he posted. “Me: Why can’t I get a pint without a queue!” He then added three photographs of busy pubs.

Except plenty of people pointed out that they were, er, all taken in the day, with glorious blue skies and the sun blazing.

OJ Simpson, who has died at the age of 76, was a sprinter of some note before turning his attention to American football, acting and televised police pursuits.

In the 1960s he was beaten in one race by a British athlete dubbed “the fastest white man on the planet” who ran 100m in 10.2 seconds and held the British record for seven years. That man? Future Lib Dem leader Menzies Campbell. Winning here, as the party likes to say!

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