Jeremy Corbyn certainly talked the talk last week when he promised action against the seven Labour MPs who voted with the Government in favour of the Brady Amendment.
They took the stand last Tuesday, but so far the hairdryer treatment has not been forthcoming.
“I don’t know who, if anybody, Corbyn has spoken to, [but] certainly not me,” said one Labour rebel.
“He never speaks to me about anything,” grumbled another. The Labour MPs who voted against the party line were Ian Austin, Sir Kevin Barron, Jim Fitzpatrick, Roger Godsiff, Kate Hoey, John Mann and Graham Stringer.
At the time, Corbyn promised that he would be “dealing with that issue... by speaking to [the rebels] and sanctions may or may not apply after those discussions”.
But he is, evidently, opting for the silent treatment instead.
“I’ve not heard from Jeremy, I’ve not heard from the whip’s office, I’ve not heard from anyone connected to the leadership,” Austin told us this morning. “And I don’t expect to.”
Has Corbyn been distracted by the serialisation of Tom Bower’s biography this weekend, which portrayed him as the Don Juan of Islington North and carried revelations about his first two marriages?
Perhaps. But there is some suggestion that the Labour leader, a long-standing Eurosceptic, is also unwilling to risk publicly reprimanding MPs who are working to get a Brexit Bill passed through Parliament.
Only last week, footage emerged of Corbyn referring to the EU as a “military Frankenstein” at a 2009 rally against the Lisbon Treaty, while in 2012 he denounced the EU’s “aggressive foreign policy” and accused it of “setting up an army”.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell — who is not a Eurosceptic — has similarly been accommodating when questioned about the Labour revolt: “We introduced a whip, we expect people to abide by it, but... you can understand why some people voted the way they did.”
Pay lap uproar
The Spearmint Rhino strip club in Tottenham Court Road has been asked to explain its gender pay gap. Female dancers have to pay Spearmint Rhino before they are paid for individual “lap-dances”, Camden Council was told, whereas male dancers secured revenue by selling tickets on the door.
The club, which has its HQ in California, had its licence renewed last Tuesday but came in for criticism when its boss, John Specht, told the licensing committee that it employed a regular male troupe called the Chocolate Men because “they are all African-American”.
Piyush Goyal, India’s union minister for railways, boasted that the country had built its first high-speed train, posting a video yesterday as proof. Sadly, it emerged that the clip had been sped up to make the train appear doubly fast. Perhaps Chris Grayling or Sadiq Khan could take a leaf to distract from our own transport troubles?
As Guy Ritchie releases the trailer for his adaptation of Aladdin, early verdicts are in for his new pub in Fitzrovia. “No one had heard of digestif/eau de vie,” a disgruntled customer huffs in an online review of The Lore of The Land. “One server had to be shown how to use a corkscrew.”
When in Roma... triumphant cast head for Firehouse
Celebrating their stunning win at the Baftas last night, the Roma cast descended on Chiltern Firehouse for the Netflix after-party. Cheering on the Mexican film’s success were actors Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira, who were joined by a joyful Salma Hayek fresh from presenting the best director award to her old friend and compatriot Alfonso Cuarón. One audience member at the ceremony itself not entering into the fiesta spirit was comedian Danny Baker, whose live tweets got him into trouble.
Baker’s initial joy at being sat next to rocker Alice Cooper was tempered by actually having to sit through the entire event.
“Being forced to watch a f***ing interminable, deafening video illustrating the ‘good works’ Bafta does throughout the ‘undeveloped’ world,” he wrote. “Alice & I press knees together in horror.” This led to attempts at censorship. “Some weasel told tales on me tweeting from Bafta,” he wrote later. “In toilets now, on wife’s phone.”
Speaker John Bercow has spent £5,852 of taxpayers’ money on canapés. The splurge covered only two events last year — a Nelson Mandela party, with a catering bill of more than three grand, and a celebration of women’s suffrage, which cost £2,552. Or maybe he’s stockpiling.
A handful of MPs are still jetting away despite the PM’s cancellation of February recess. “One guy is still skiing, one is going to the Maldives,” a Tory MP tells me. There will be just as many Labour MPs breaking the rules. “Only way you can go is if you’re paired,” the source adds. Retribution, however, is not expected to be swift.
Scottish Tory MP Andrew Bowie is securing his status as one of the party’s next big things. Quietly promoted to Theresa May’s Permanent Private Secretary over Christmas, The Londoner understands that he and his wife spent this weekend with the Mays at Chequers...
Star-struck Liz sidles up for a Swiftie
Liz Truss wangled a selfie with pop star Taylor Swift at the Baftas last night. “Look what you made me do, Taylor,” the Chief Secretary to the Treasury wrote on Instagram, quoting the singer-songwriter’s 2017 hit single. “I asked Taylor to take the selfie as she is the world selfie expert,” Truss told us this morning. “Said that my two daughters, aged 10 and 12, would be blown away as they are big fans too.”
Truss clearly had a more scintillating Sunday than Gavin Williamson, who posted a picture of himself next to a bin captioned: “Looking smug having filled up another skip.”
Quote of the day
'I'm currently focused on trying to resign over prisons'
Rory Stewart, the prisons minister, on being asked whether he would resign over a no-deal Brexit.