Andy McSmith's Diary: A quandary for Ukip's Douglas Carswell – should I reshuffle myself?

If Nigel Farage had any say in the matter, the party's solitary MP would sack himself

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Indy Politics

It is a little known fact that there is an official and properly constituted Ukip parliamentary party. It has one member, the lone Ukip MP, Douglas Carswell. It exists because a properly constituted party has certain privileges when it comes to booking rooms in Parliament, for instance. 

As the long agony of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet reshuffle dominated Westminster gossip, Carswell – the leader and universal spokesman of the Ukip parliamentary party – told me: “I’m wondering whether to have a reshuffle, but I don’t know whether to sack myself, or promote myself to a more important job.” If Nigel Farage has any say in the matter, he would sack himself.

Boris’s (redacted) blast-off

In January last year, Boris Johnson visited Kurdistan, in what was assumed to be an attempt to improve his foreign affairs credentials. His presence there set off an alarming diary item in The Mail on Sunday, which reported that, “Invited to sit behind the wheel of a new F-Type Jaguar in a car showroom in Erbil, Boris hit the gas and roared off, with his protection squad trailing after him…”

After a Freedom of Information request the Foreign Office published a bundle of documents related to that visit, including a message received in London from the British Consul General in Erbil, Angus McKee, who assured them: “In case anyone gets alarmed, while it is true that the Mayor got behind the wheel of a [redacted] in the showroom, drove out of the door and on to the driveway, quick action by his PPO [protection officer] and me ensured he did not drive off.”

A point of ordure

Clive Lewis, one of the few genuine Corbynista MPs, tweeted this about a Blairite: “I was on Victoria Derbyshire yesterday with my good colleague Wes Streeting.”

Why was he being so nice about someone at the opposite end of a divided party? Possibly because he was trying to soften the impact of a sudden burst of interest in an old tweet that Lewis addressed to Streeting in April 2013, when neither was an MP, after Streeting had accused him of being “puerile” – “if you don’t like, don’t follow you jumped-up turd”. 

Never mind whether this is appropriate language to use in a public debate between Labour candidates, it is an egregious mixed metaphor. How can a turd be jumped-up, I ask you? 

SNP’s money problems

Phil Boswell, the SNP MP for Coatbridge, is being investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards for allegedly failing to declare a company directorship, which is not illegal but is potentially a serious breach of the rules for MPs.

In December, he was accused of hypocrisy for accepting an interest-free loan of £18,308 while working as a contracts manager for a US energy company, as a legal way of avoiding tax. The SNP has strict views about tax avoidance. One of the reasons they massacred Labour at the last general election was that they were seen as clean, while Labour in Scotland was not.

The SNP has already suspended two of its original batch of 56 MPs over issues involving money. It would be awkward for them if they had to lose another.

What the...

The World Taekwondo Federation, governing body for a form of Korean martial arts, is changing its name for marketing purposes to World Taekwondo, and will no longer be known by the acronym WTF. Cue expression of amazement.

A lamb turns Adrian veggie

The broadcaster Adrian Chiles underwent an epiphany while making a BBC documentary about the Middle East, I hear. He appears to have turned vegetarian. While making the series, My Mediterranean he watched a lamb named Courage being slaughtered by the prescribed halal method. He was also filmed eating it.

I am told that since his return, he has been haunted by the death, and went through Christmas without eating meat.