November Review: Sleazegate, COP-out and Peppa Pig World

November Review: Sleazegate, COP-out and Peppa Pig World

November was supposed to be the month defined by COP26, the world’s “last chance” to “keep 1.5 alive” and avert a climate catastrophe. Instead, most of the key players didn’t even show up, and Westminster soon found itself mired in scandals over sleaze, second jobs, and the merits of Peppa Pig World. Then to top it all off, just as COVID had finally receded from the daily news cycle, the Xi variant Omicron arrived…

After the Standards Commission recommended a 30-day suspension for MP Owen Paterson over a breach of lobbying rules, it looked like the worst was over for the government: Paterson would take the hit, tough out his punishment, and the story would eventually fade away without too much collateral damage. Instead, Boris’s bizarre decision to back Andrea Leadsom’s amendment – which would have delayed Paterson’s suspension and created a new Select Committee overseeing MPs’ disciplinary actions – ignited a furious row that dominated headlines for most of the month. At the time, it looked like the government’s biggest unforced error of the year – then came December…

The inevitable U-turn followed, although the damage was done. Paterson resigned, backbenchers were furious – not least at the Chief Whip – and the Tories’ polling numbers tanked. Debates over MPs’ second jobs raged on, with Guido pointing out the hourly rates of Ian Blackford, Ed Davey, and Sir Keir himself – all of whom trousered thousands last year with their lucrative side hustles. In November alone, Guido found that MPs had taken in a combined £274,109 alongside their salaries…

November was also the month Sir Keir managed a proper reshuffle, this time still managing to outrage Angela Rayner though without accidentally handing her more titles. Wes Streeting became Shadow Health Secretary, David Lammy replaced Lisa Nandy as Shadow Foreign Secretary, and Yvette Cooper was appointed Shadow Home Secretary. There was so much negative briefing and counter briefing by Rayner’s team Guido revealed her head of comms had mysteriously gone on leave a few days later…

COP26 came and went: a compromised coal deal was passed by a teary Alok Sharma; Greta Thunberg danced in the streets singing “you can shove your climate crisis up your arse”; and Joe Biden reflected the mood of the world when he fell asleep. The arrival of 25,000 delegates into Glasgow did at least spur the local economy, with Guido reporting on the number of hookers advertising their services tripling in the lead-up to the summit.

The month ended with Boris twice referring to his trip to Peppa Pig World in speeches to wonks and business leaders – to which Sir Keir responded by calling the place “dreadful” – and South African doctors discovering a new Covid variant spreading quickly throughout the country. Thankfully, the doctor to first uncover it stressed that the symptoms appeared mild and the UK shouldn’t panic. Nobody listened. 

Honourable mentions:

Headline of the month: An Apology to Alastair Campbell...



* This article was originally published by Guido Fawkes

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