Daily catch-up: George Osborne overtakes Boris Johnson in the succession race

A curated selection of politics, politics, science and a bad sign

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The Independent Online

1. “Well, that’s a bad sign,” said Pete Firman. His show is at the Edinburgh Fringe next month.

2. Catching up with Prime Minister’s Questions from last week, let us note that George Osborne has overtaken Boris Johnson in the contest to succeed David Cameron.

Osborne, standing in for Cameron, who was on his tour of European capitals being polite to people who thought they weren’t going to have to negotiate British demands, did nothing special. The sketch writers all commented on his feeble joke about no Benn but plenty of Bennites in the Labour leadership contest. It was unfunny, factually incorrect and misjudged, in answer to a deadly serious question about a British suicide bomber in Syria. But it hardly mattered.

What was notable was that Osborne looked the part and commanded the House. He is not as deft as Cameron or as televisual, but what struck me was the noise from the Conservative benches behind him. It was a full-throated roar. They see him as their leader in a way that they just don’t see Johnson.

Johnson has hardly spoken in the Commons since his return. Most recently, he intervened when Jo Johnson, the Universities Minister, was speaking, saying, “I thank my honourable brother for giving way” (Hansard made it fit the usual formality). But he was never very good in the Chamber when he was an MP before.

A Labour MP who observes these things well, and with the most glancing of references to his own party’s defeat, said to me: “People want a prime minister who makes them feel safe.”

2. This by Janan Ganesh, the Chancellor’s biographer, a week ago is superb on how Osborne has changed.

3. Mr Memory set a good Father’s Day quiz question on Twitter. Can you name the 17 current MPs whose fathers were also MPs? The answers are in the replies to this post.

4. Some people can’t “see” mental images – and now the condition has a name, aphantasia, reports The New York Times

5. “Do tax credits ‘subsidise’ employers?” An interesting question asked by Ryan Bourne after the Prime Minister’s speech yestereday, which suggested that they do. Bourne works for the free-market Institute of Economic Affairs, but Declan Gaffney, who is not a right-winger, agrees that it is probably a QTWTAIN.

6. And finally, thanks to Moose Allain for this:

“My wife and son were discussing putting basil in the dinner. I said ‘Careful, the basil might be faulty.’ You could almost taste the tumbleweed.”

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