Daily Mail

Ange’s attack was weak as a theatre bar G&T


DoMInIc Raab’s face was a veinpoppin­g, eyebrowtwi­tching study of anxiety yesterday. His cranium radiated a deep shade of crimson. If you could have bottled the heat coming off it, we could have probably solved the winter fuel crisis in one go.

covering for Rishi Sunak at PMQs, the Deputy Prime Minister was a buttock-shifting bag of nerves on the front bench. Hours earlier it had emerged that he was the subject of two bullying complaints. Apparently, he isn’t always the most delicate of bosses.

Most aren’t, of course – but this is Whitehall; feelings are bruised rather easily these days. But if Raab was expecting Labour to make hay with his predicamen­t, he needn’t have worried.

His opponent, Angela Rayner, turned in a performanc­e as weak and tepid as a theatre bar gin and tonic. Strange, because Ange is normally such a formidable customer at the despatch box. coarse and devoid of wit, absolutely – but coming up against her is like getting on the Tube in full evening regalia with a carriage of boozedup football hooligans. You know you’ll get roundly abused, but only a fool would answer back.

She looked like she meant business, decked out in battle dress: Viking warrior hair and shin-kicker heels. But she was oddly toothless. Boudica deprived of her spear. nora Batty sans rolling pin.

Admittedly, Labour’s deputy leader did not have much to work with. So far, the only on-therecord allegation comes from exForeign office mandarin Lord McDonald, who’s been telling anyone who’ll listen that Raab could be – horror of horrors! – ‘very curt with people’. His Lordship, by the way, is currently touring broadcasti­ng studios touting his memoirs, presumably available now in all good bookshops.

FAR worse for Rayner was that she’d spent all week demanding an investigat­ion into Raab’s behaviour. now Raab himself had requested one, but as far as Ange was concerned, he was guilty as charged. ‘ What’s he still doing here?’ she asked the commons.

Mr Raab is not the most sympatheti­c of characters. There are snarling Staffordsh­ire bull terriers chewing their way through cages at Battersea Dogs Home one would sooner cuddle. But listening to this tirade of twaddle, one almost felt sorry for him.

Rayner brought up the case of the ‘flying tomatoes’ which he was said to have angrily thrown at a paper bag.

Raab insisted the story was balderdash. Even if it were true, so what? Gordon Brown was said to be prone to throwing considerab­ly more lethal projectile­s. And not at paper bags, either.

By the time Rayner sat down, Raab’s vital signs had returned to normal. The pulse was steadying. Breathing under control. Armpits less damp than ten minutes ago.

His conservati­ve colleagues rallied around him. Jacob ReesMogg ( con, nE Somerset) reminded the House of the litany of bullying offences recently committed by Labour MPs.

They were a bunch of hypocrites, he announced, informing the Speaker that he was tempted to use a stronger word but it was not ‘necessaril­y parliament­ary’. Bunch of rotters, perhaps.

Meanwhile, Simon Hoare (con, n Dorset) warned Rayner of the old British tradition of being ‘innocent until proven guilty’. Quite so. Perhaps that great stickler for judicial process, Sir Keir Starmer, can explain it to her.

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