Captain’s Log: Day Two of Operation Red Meat. The mission to save the Prime Minister’s backside continues to be met with some resistance.
Treaty negotiations with the crew are proving trickier than first thought. Attempts to mollify more mutinous souls have encountered stubborn defiance.
What’s more, senior ranks grow ever more restless. Officers Sunak and Hunt are exhibiting insubordinate tendencies.
Leadership must double down efforts if we are to avoid an irredeemable outburst of bloody in-fighting… Yes, the Conservative benches are in a sticky spot at the moment.
For all Number 10’s efforts to give them a jolt they hiss with all the verve of a deflated whoopee cushion.
Captain’s Log: Day Two of Operation Red Meat. The mission to save the Prime Minister’s backside continues to be met with some resistance
Not even Monday’s announcement about phasing out the BBC licence fee did much to energise them. As Spock might observe with a flap of his pointy ears: ‘Illogical, captain.’
Nor has the Government’s ploy to enlist the Navy to help out with illegal cross-Channel migrant crossings shifted them from their grumpiness.
Quite the opposite, in fact. So unimpressed was Tobias Ellwood (Con, Bournemouth E) yesterday that he tabled an urgent question on the matter.
Mr Ellwood, a former captain in the Royal Green Jackets, considered the proposals hare-brained and ill-thought-out.
Our brave servicemen and women were stretched enough as it is without involving them in Home Secretary Priti Patel’s domestic difficulties.
Getting Navy grunts to patrol our shores from inflatable dinghies was as demeaning as sending the SAS in to retrieve Larry the Cat from a tree.
Answering for the Government was junior defence minister James Heappey (Con, Wells), a veteran of two tours of Afghanistan.
Tobias Ellwood (Con, Bournemouth E), a former captain in the Royal Green Jackets (pictured), considered the proposals hare-brained and ill-thought-out.
You can tell he’s a soldier by the way he speaks, employing that clipped, precise language of the adjutant’s tent.
Looks like a soldier too: shiny shoes, neatly pressed trousers. The parting on his hair was so sharp it resembled a zip.
What was dolled up as a move to get tough on migrants turned out to be nothing of the sort. Heappey confirmed that naval vessels would not be empowered to escort all those inflatable dinghies back to France.
Nor would they be using ‘pushback’ measures. Some of the more eager beavers in the Home Office were said to be keen on deploying sonic devices which produce noises unpleasant enough to induce vomiting.
One could achieve similar results pumping out one of SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford’s ‘People of Scotland’ soliloquies through a tannoy except the courts would probably consider that a cruelty too far.
So what were the Navy going to do? Well, by picking migrants up mid-crossing, the naval officers could stop them coming ashore on their ‘own terms’, said Heappey. Presumably this meant giving them another lift once they were on dry land to the nearest processing centre. Why not throw in a few complimentary gin and tonics while they’re at it?
Conservative MPs were not impressed. Several pointed out that the Navy was being reduced to a ‘taxi service’ for refugees.
Of particular dismay for Downing Street will have been how many former servicemen lined up to put the boot into the proposals.
Ex-Territorial Sir Desmond Swayne (Con, New Forest W) said by picking boats up, the Navy’s presence would only exacerbate the problem.
Another former TA man, little Mark Francois (Con, Rayleigh and Wickford), hopped about furiously like Rumpelstiltskin on Red Bull.
Conservative MPs were not impressed. Several pointed out that the Navy was being reduced to a ‘taxi service’ for refugees
Nor were the Tory grandees having any of it. Sir Edward Leigh (Con, Gainsborough) labelled the idea ‘just an embarrassment’. He demanded that the Human Rights Act be amended so we could start slinging those landing on beaches illegally into jail.
‘Oh for heaven’s sake!’ wailed Joanna Cherry (SNP, Edinburgh SW). A human rights silk, since you ask.
Naval reservist Andrew Murrison (Con, SW Wiltshire) took pity on Heappey. He understood he had been ‘bounced’ into the decision by Downing Street.
The minister did not demure. Philip Hollobone (Con, Kettering) was less sympathetic. ‘This isn’t Operation Red Meat,’ he declared. ‘This is Operation Dog’s Dinner!’
Labour’s benches? Well they just hollered and howled for an hour, delighting at the spectacle of their opponents tottering on the back foot.
Worryingly for the Government, they’ve been getting to do rather a lot of that lately.
HENRY DEEDES watches Day Two of Operation Red Meat