The Londoner: Commons team go the distance

As MPs return from the Easter recess today and the torturous Brexit marathon resumes, it seems some politicians really are gluttons for punishment; 16 brave MPs are also getting set to compete in the London Marathon on Sunday.

Labour and the Conservatives will go head-to-head, with each party fielding seven MPs along with two runners from the SNP.

The Liberal Democrats and Change UK, meanwhile, will be sitting this one out, maybe preferring the European Elections race. Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns, left, is the highest-profile figure to announce he is taking part.

It will be his ninth London Marathon, and he will be fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Society and Guide Dogs U.K.

Political differences aside they are all united by a shared experience of blisters and sore knees, and will come together for a photo-call outside Westminster on Thursday.

Andrew Bowie MP, fundraising for Alzheimer’s Research UK, is one to watch on Sunday.

The Scottish Conservative has quietly risen through the ranks and is Theresa May’s trusted Parliamentary Private Secretary, at the tender age of only 31.

“I’m not training enough and have no idea what time I’ll finish,” he insists ahead of race day.

Other MPs hoping to go the distance will be Conservatives Chris Green, James Duddridge, James Morris, John Lamont and Tom Pursglove, the SNP’s Neil Gray and David Linden, and Labour’s Ruth Cadbury, far left, Stephanie Peacock, Alex Norris, Jon Ashworth, Nic Dakin, Paul Williams and Thangam Debbonaire.

Also representing the political fray will be Isabel Hardman, assistant editor of The Spectator.

Of course, journalist and former Conservative MP Matthew Parris set a personal best of 2:32:57 in the 1985 London Marathon. No pressure.

Pint-sized patron

(Photo credit: ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images) (AFP/Getty Images)

Can Mark Francois MP organise a piss-up in a brewery? We’ll soon find out — the diminutive MP for Rayleigh and Wickford officially opens a brewery in his local constituency next Sunday. Francois, who was spotted on the premises yesterday, was asked along after he helped the owners get set up. It’s unclear whether the belligerent backbencher and vice-chair of the ERG will be cutting a ribbon or pulling a pint but The Londoner understands that the owners have brewed him a special keg of ale called “Sent to Hell”, a reference to Donald Tusk’s remarks about hard Brexiteers.


Actor Michael Sheen tells David Tennant’s podcast about the agony of forgetting his lines on stage early in his career. “I started to feel like what I imagine drowning feels like... my heart beating... it felt like letting go and drifting off, it started to go a bit dark, I couldn’t see, I couldn’t hear, my heart was just beating.” Dramatic.


Relations between police and Extinction Rebellion protesters seemed as warm as the weather over the bank holiday weekend. The Londoner spotted one officer near Marble Arch borrowing an eco warrior’s sun cream. Before returning to her duties, the copper asked whether it was rubbed in, explaining: “I don’t want to look like a dick.”

Spring brings out Wintour for New York premiere of The White Crow

(Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

While Brits this side of the Atlantic were nursing four-day bank holiday weekend hangovers, expats with better stamina were flying the flag in New York. London-born US Vogue editor Dame Anna Wintour joined British playwright Sir David Hare for a screening of The White Crow, a film about the dancer Rudolf Nureyev. Hare wrote the script and polymath Ralph Fiennes produced, directed and stars as the ballet master Alexander Ivanovich Pushkin. Also in attendance was actor Sarah Jessica Parker, actor and ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov and musician Patti Smith.

Brit actress Ruth Wilson was also in Manhattan for a screening of her drama Mrs Wilson, hosted at the Robin Williams Centre by the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Mrs Wilson tells the story of Wilson’s grandfather, a former spy and serial bigamist.


Jo Johnson has deleted a video of him and his father saving a sheep on Exmoor after critics told him it was “self-aggrandising”. The “light-hearted spoof” of heroism showed the Johnsons untangling the sheep from barbed wire. Shot by Jo’s 15-year-old daughter Rose, the video featured puns such as “the beginning of a beautiful friendsheep”. “I think some people’s irony radars weren’t working,” Johnson told The Londoner.


Leadership hopeful Johnny Mercer is now publicly reaching out across the Tory Party for private dialogue. “Follow for direct message?” he asked staunch Brexiteer Daniel Hannan on Twitter last night. Mercer may be ex-Army but The Londoner doesn’t think this counts as a top-secret manoeuvre.


Justice Minister Rory Stewart was spotted strolling in the Hyde Park sunshine yesterday, chatting into his airpods. “Living the dream,” he commented. Whose?

Some extra sparkle for S pal Markle

Serena Williams has given an interview to the Business of Fashion to promote her clothing line S by Serena. Happily, she already has her first (unofficial) brand ambassador: her friend Meghan Markle, who wore the label’s “boss blazer” on the royal tour of Australia last October. Says the tennis champ: “If we’re giving our stuff to Meghan, it has to be the highest quality that we can get. That’s what I tell our team: ‘We have to make sure it’s super high quality, fit for a royal princess!’”

Quote of the day

'Listen to the science, listen to the scientists. Invite them to talk'

Sixteen year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg's message for politicians ahead of meeting in Westminster today