Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

UK Politics

Andy McSmith's Diary: If David Cameron's relaxed, he doesn't know his history


David Cameron may be “relaxed” about having some of his backbench MPs table an amendment to the Queen’s Speech that will call for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union but, strictly speaking, it is nothing to be relaxed about.

On the official parliamentary website, there is a portentous warning: “The first parliamentary test of a minority or coalition government is the vote on an amendment to the Queen’s Speech. If the Queen’s Speech is amended, the Prime Minister must resign.” It last happened in January 1924, when the minority Tory government collapsed, letting Labour in. Not, you would think, a precedent about which Mr Cameron should be “relaxed”.

A riddle: what do you call PMQs with no PM?

If he lost office, at least Mr Cameron would not have to endure Prime Minister’s Questions again. The variety of pretexts he finds for avoiding his Wednesday morning appointments at the despatch box are so many and varied that he dropped Ed Miliband (above) into an embarrassing position at a drinks reception he hosted for political journalists on Thursday evening. During one of the conversations, it dawned on the hacks that the Labour leader did not know that once again there will be no Prime Minister’s Questions this coming Wednesday, because the Prime Minister will be out of the country. Miliband was visibly taken aback when journos broke the news.

Get well soon, Graham

One person not seen in Westminster recently is Graham Stuart, pictured above, the Conservative MP for Beverley and Holderness, who had a nasty fall skiing in France nearly two months ago, injuring his pelvis, breaking several ribs and puncturing a lung. He is not yet mended, but is on the mend. “I’ll be back on Monday, albeit in a wheelchair,” he says.

Nadine Dorries: putting the ‘o’ in social media

Ed Balls once set off a trend in Twitter when he accidentally sent out a tweet that said nothing but “Ed Balls”. Now Nadine Dorries, left, has made a similar error: in the heady excitement of being reinstated as a Tory MP, she put out a tweet consisting just of the letter ‘o’. “You’re not as good as Ed Balls,” one disappointed recipient tweeted back. To which she retorted: “And I don’t give a flying ferret!” But she is as high as a flying ferret.

At last, Opik finds an appreciative audience

Almost everything the former Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik, below, did during his political career turned to failure. So too his relationships and affairs with well known women, and his various attempts to find a new profession since he lost his seat in 2010. It is therefore delightful to read in the Oxford University newspaper, Cherwell, about the runaway success of his recent appearance at the Oxford Union, and particularly about how well the latter part of the evening went, in a nearby bar, surrounded by undergraduates. “Lembit was great, he is totally mad,” a student exclaimed afterwards. “I’m not sure exactly how much he drank, but he definitely started asking some people in president’s drinks about their masturbation habits, and in Bridge I’m pretty sure he likened a toilet cubicle to Nick Clegg’s office.”

Students to test their mettle

New College Nottingham is offering a foundation degree in heavy metal. The course starts in September and, in their second year, students will perform on tour at venues around the country. It’s enough to make people who get angry about universities that offer pointless courses go deep purple.