Michael Fabricant is perched on the edge of his House of Commons desk clutching a small black ukulele and grinning for The Independent’s photographer. He doesn’t look much like a man who has just been summarily sacked by the Prime Minister.
But then Mr Fabricant – a former government Whip and, until Wednesday, the Tories’ Deputy Chairman – is not your average politician.
The adjective ‘flamboyant’ really doesn’t do him justice.
Unlike Maria Miller’s departure on the same day, Mr Fabricant decided to announce his “sacking” on Twitter. “Been asked to resign as Vice Chairman, refused, so sacked over HS2 and my views on a recent Cabinet Minister,” he wrote.
In response to commiserations from some of his 16,500 Twitter followers he added: “I ain’t dead” and “Now what shall I do next? Celebrity Come Dancing?”
But when we meet the day after, Mr Fabricant proffers an extraordinary back story to his departure. It variously involves (in order) llamas, incest, bestiality and, although he doesn’t name him, almost certainly David Cameron’s controversial Australian election boss Lynton Crosby. It’s quite a long story. But it is worth recounting in full.
“A friend of mine is Matthew Parris (the newspaper columnist) who breeds llamas,” he begins. “And Matt had a llama called Darren. Incidentally he names his llamas after the first person of the same sex as the llama who sees them. Darren is the local plumber.
“Unfortunately Darren took a shine when he reached puberty to his auntie Vera… Vera being a cleaning lady when she’s not a llama. So there was a real concern that they would end up with a llama with two heads as a result of an incestuous relationship.
“So I said I would take Darren off Matt’s hands and (as a result) had a very nice picture of him.”
It then gets more complicated. “Now, when the Sochi Games started I did a few tweets pointing out that Russia had a very crude and outdated legal system in its attitude to gays. And someone tweeted at me asking ‘are you gay or are you just pretending to be?’
“And I thought well, I could ignore this, but then again what the heck and I had this picture of Darren. So I tweeted: ‘What I can reveal is that I’m having an affair with a llama. But I won’t say if it’s a boy llama or a girl llama.’”
That’s when then the trouble started. “Well, it then turns out that a certain individual who is a strategist contracted to the Conservative party decided that this was outrageous. He spoke to David Cameron, told him that after the party had almost torn itself apart over gay marriage me – a vice chairman – advocating bestial marriage was a step too far.
“I think David Cameron and others found it hard to keep a straight face. But for a quiet life it was decided that I would be told ‘please don’t preach bestiality any more on Twitter’.”
There it might have ended – but when a truncated version of the tale ended up in a diary column it was too much. And – Mr Fabricant believes – indirectly led to his sacking over the Maria Miller tweets.
“At the regular four o’clock meeting on Wednesday these Maria Miller tweets were shown to him (he had written ‘about time’ after she finally resigned) and I think, rather at the end of his tether, the Prime Minister – and I can’t blame him – finally said enough is enough.”
But Mr Fabricant is not in the slightest bit bitter or upset. “You know I’ve had a good run for my money. I think David Cameron has been particularly tolerant of me.”
You would be right to conclude that Mr Fabricant is not the most serious of MPs.
But he is serious about quite a few things – his opposition to the current HS2 route (which he says is too expensive and environmentally damaging), Europe (which from an economic perspective he opposes) and his belief that the Tories need to be a tolerant, socially liberal party that appeals to all.
What he does not believe is that politicians should be androids – mindlessly repeating the party line. “While I agree it is important to have a united message in politics, if we are too united people see through it.
“In 1997 Labour had a fresh united voice. But people have now understood that Alistair Campbell was there orchestrating it. People are conscious of all that now and politicians need to be themselves. And when people say things in their own way their message gets across.”
But Fabricant suddenly realises a flaw to his argument. “The trouble is some politicians, if they were themselves, wouldn’t get elected,” he laughs. “Some MPs hold views that you would not want to have repeated let alone through Twitter.”
So what next for Fabricant? He plans to campaign vigorously against HS2 which he says, in its present form is “seriously flawed”.
“I’m not being a nimby,” he says. “But I am saying that if there is a less environmentally damaging route and that if it can be done more cheaply – and I will be making these points in the House.”
He will also be campaigning on Europe, arguing that Britain’s long term economic interest lies in pursuing trade deals with America, Australia and India instead of the EU.
He also intends to be more of himself which, even outside any formal Tory position, may fill the hierarchy with dread.
“Until now I’ve been quite restrained,” he says. “I’ve held myself back on occasion. I am now completely free of all constraints. I can talk about my relationship with llamas and other mammals.”
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