QUENTIN LETTS: Cameron’s ripely pursed lips betrayed velvety pleasure – he could have been a Harris hawk that had just gobbled an unexpectedly plump dormouse
With a loping gait and a tug on his Charles Tyrwhitt cuffs, David Cameron strolled up Downing Street as though he had barely been away. Genuine surprises are rare in politics and few photographers were there to snap the scene. Walnut-veneer suntan, salon-schmoozer crows feet, the receding hair now a little greyer: he is ageing like Fonseca vintage port. The foreign secretaryship and a seat in the Lords? How very agreeable. How very Edwardian.
‘Can you turn it round, Mr Cameron?’ shouted reporters when he left later. He strode past without vouchsafing small-talk to the reptiles but his ripely pursed lips betrayed velvety pleasure. With his beaky nose and that glassy, avian quality to the eyes, he could have been a Harris hawk that had just gobbled an unexpectedly plump dormouse.
Cameroon treacle to still the storm-in-a-toothmug melodramas of the Suella saga? That will have been part of the calculation. Some Tory righties are pop-eyed with fury, and Lord Heseltine’s welcome for him will have only their worsened suspicions. Tory association matrons will, I suspect, be less cross. And won’t Beijing be pleased!
Alongside Lord Cameron trailed that prosaic chap Sir Philip Barton, permanent secretary at the foreign office. They headed for the Victorian splendours of the Durbar Court and one imagines it was not long before the new George Nathaniel Curzon was treating dullard Barton as his fag.
With a loping gait and a tug on his Charles Tyrwhitt cuffs, David Cameron (pictured) strolled up Downing Street as though he had barely been away, writes Quentin Letts
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The last foreign secretary to sit in the Lords was Peter Carington and that didn’t end terribly well. Speaker Lindsay Hoyle voiced grumbles in the Commons, wanting to know how MPs would be able to scrutinise Lord Cameron ‘given the gravity of the current international situation’. Only constitutional illiterates can really complain. Peter Mandelson operated as trade secretary, lord president of the council and minister for Machiavellian affairs from the Lords, and now he advises Sir Keir Starmer.
A reshuffle has consequences. Scaffolders turned up in Downing Street to do a decent day’s toil but had to be sent packing. TV coverage was not going to be improved by the clank of scaffold poles and the whizz of electric wrenches. The last thing Sky News’s Beth Rigby needed was handsome scaffolders distracting her while she did her broadcasts. Beth had already managed to call Rishi Sunak’s government a ‘damp squid’. Is there any other sort of squid?
Windy first light was still breaking when Suella Braverman was seen leaving her home. The soon to be ex Home Secretary looked rainswept and weary. Possibly hadn’t grabbed much sleep. Rishi gave her the bullet via telephone, presumably on the advice of his bodyguards.
Other departures, save for that of Therese Coffey, were handled in the Prime Minister’s office at the Commons, aka the abattoir. Therese inexplicably turned up at No 10’s shiny front door, pausing en route to stroke Larry the cat, who had been doing his business amid the yew obelisks and some floppy phormiums. While Larry conveyed his regrets, reporters supposed Ms Coffey must be in line for some sort of new job. She was certainly in No 10 for a long time. Refusing to budge? Locked herself in the loo? Eventually there was a pop of rubber bung being removed from narrow tube and Therese – who is far too kindly a soul to have been in cabinet – was given the heave-ho.
Cameroon treacle to still the storm-in-a-toothmug melodramas of the Suella saga? That will have been part of the calculation
James Cleverly became the first home secretary to wear a beard since Hugh Childers in the 1880s (Charles Clarke’s designer stubble in the New Labour years didn’t count). Stephen Barclay suffered the indignity of being driven to his new job at environment in a Ford Galaxy. His successor at health, Victoria Atkins, sashayed up, studying the paving stones with inordinate fascination, determined not to trip. As Richard Holden left I asked the new Tory party chairman if he was wearing a new suit. ‘No, it’s just my cleanest one.’
The sign on the Downing Street scaffolding just said: ‘Incomplete. Not to be used.’
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