David Cameron wants to find new ways of making Britain unattractive, though Jeremy Corbyn is well ahead of him there….

It took David Cameron six months from the Election to come up with his list of negotiating conditions for Britain to remain in the EU, and then less than six weeks for him to start disowning it. Absent for much of the week during another extended period of prancing across Mitteleurope, the PM returned to Britain apparently empty-handed. Wild rumours that the Italians were about to ride to the PM’s rescue turned out to be illusory and by the weekend Downing Street briefers were telling hacks that the Prime Minister was willing to be flexible on his key demand of benefits for migrants.

Or rather no benefits for migrants. It is one of the curiosities of British politics that while the Chancellor of the Exchequer wants us to believe that being on the social is a deeply unattractive option, the Prime Minister’s approach is posited on the assertion that across Europe, from the plains of Poland to the banks of the Danube, would-be immigrants are sniffing the air like Bisto kids and succumbing to the irresistible lure of Mr Beveridge’s legacy. The governments of these countries being in no mood to have a padlock put on the gravy, Mr Cameron has had to retreat. Young men of his class would once upon a time embark on the Grand Tour, spreading out across the capitals of Europe in search of adventure and fulfillment. At least they usually came back with syphilis,

The Prime Minister, say the briefers, remains keen to “unlock the political will to find a solution” and wants to explore with his fellow leaders other ideas for making Britain a less attractive place to come to. One would have thought that the weather, the food and the Christmas television schedules was enough, but in the spirit of helpfulness perhaps the PM might want to consider an induction programme for all new arrivals presided over by Nigel Farage and Katy Hopkins. Either that or compulsory Stephen Fry. Mr Cameron himself has suggested a ban on semi-automatic weapons, though that must be about something else: not since the days of the trusty Lee Enfield has Britain been much of a name to conjur with when it comes to gun technology.

The assault on assault weapons may have had something to do with reports from earlier in the week that the Prime Minister had had a gun held to his head by the Conservative Party’s candidate for London mayor, Zac Goldsmith. Now, despite having a name that sounds like a sound effect from Star Wars, Mr Goldsmith has always struck one as more of a hippy ruminant than a violent extremist. It is, however, evident that he is moved to great passion by the impact of building a third runway at Heathrow Airport. It is more precisely the impact that a third runway would have on votes for Zac Goldsmith that incites the passion, but it was enough anyway to enable him to sneak past the police in Downing Street on Tuesday afternoon and threaten the Prime Minister. Within hours of the two men meeting, it had been announced that the promised decision on Heathrow was a decision not to decide anything until after the Mayoral elections are out of the way. At that point they will no doubt decide to write another report. Earlier that day Mr Goldsmith had told the Westminster lobby he regretted threatening the Prime Minister with a by-election in his marginal seat if there were a decision in favour of expanding Heathrow. Within hours of saying so, he was threatening the PM again, with or without the aid of semi-automatic weaponry.

If Tuesday was a bad day for the PM, how much worse for his Chancellor. Nadine Dorries, the renegade Tory who sits for mid-Bedfordshire, hit out, not for the first time, at poor George, implying that she might leave the Conservative Party if Mr Osborne became its leader. All along the hushed corridors of the Treasury came the sound of the Chancellor learning to live with this terrible news.

It would be unfair, albeit temptingly topical, to compare Ms Dorries to Donald Trump – she has not, so far as one is aware, called for Muslims to be excluded from Ampthill or Flitwick – but she shares with the wigged lunatic that identical hubristic obsession with being seen as plain spoken, commonsensical and the armour-clad slayer of political correctness. She may not have the most elevated mind, but she speaks it with the same enthusiasm that a Dobermann eats raw beefsteak.

On her mind at this time was that Mr Osborne should be excluded from one day becoming Prime Minister because had had come from a background of privilege and had gone to a good school. Had she ruled out Sajid Javid for being black or Ruth Davidson for being a lesbian, Ms Dorries could expect a visit from the police. What would otherwise be considered hate speech is, however, acceptable currency when it comes to dealing with nobs (or knobs for that matter). Mr Osborne, she said, had spent the last ten years in Parliament handing out sweeties, an uncomfortable metaphor, provoking as it does the image of the Chancellor hanging around the division lobbies in a mac that is a bit too short for him and offering to show the girls his deficit reduction plan.

Like Trump too, Mrs Dorries is a vereran of the television celebrity circuit – a briefer flirtation in her case, although her stint on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here two years ago caused her to lose the party whip for a while and cemented her falling out with the leadership of her party, whom she calls the posh boys. Her playing hookey to spend time in the jungle with the creepie-crawlies (though enough of Ant and Dec) was an entirely pointless exercise since the Commons is coming increasingly to resemble a talent show itself. Last week it was Hilary Benn who strode into the limelight to audition for the role of “the one who looks like they should be leading the Labour Party” and this week it was the turn of the shadow first minister Angela Eagle. Like Mr Benn’s last week, Ms Eagle’s turn at the dispatch box – in her case deputising for Mr Corbyn at PMQs – provoked five star reviews.

There was, in truth, more than an element of dog-walking-on-its-hind legs condescension in all the comments aimed at the effectiveness of Ms Eagle’s performance, though old Parliamentary hands claimed to have first spotted her talent for twinkle-eyed wit at business questions, the Parliamentary equivalent of a tough gig in the back room of a pub on the northern circuit. An objective observer would conclude that Osborne and Eagle pretty much matched each other sally for sally, and if it was Ms Eagle who came away with the louder cheers that is only because Labour backbenchers would have cheered Donald Trump, for no better reason than that he is not Jeremy Corbyn. The fact that Ms Eagle’s best joke – when she claimed to be reading out a letter from ‘Donald from Brussels’ – was some mild mickey-taking of the Labour leader himself made it all the more poignant.

That Mr Corbyn also had a tough week by now should go without saying. Heavy rain in Cumbria early on tested his pacifist convictions when it comes to flood defences, and by the end of the week he has being criticized heavily for attending the annual Christmas bash of the Stop The War coalition. STW is an organistion so extreme that even Caroline Lucas, the leader of the Green Party, has withdrawn from it. Mr Corbyn went along, though whether he dressed up as Father Christmas is unreported. Certainly, Santa’s modus operandi –the distribution of hand-outs paid for in a rather undefined fashion by other people – accords strongly with his socialist principles.

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