Hardman Steve Baker is the latest panto performance from the Dad’s Army ERG
Steve Baker’s audition for the next season of Danny Dyer’s Deadliest Men is yet another example of our toe-curling public discourse.
From Boris Johnson’s “suicide vest” comments to the nameless briefings to the Sunday papers about stabbing and murdering the Prime Minister, it seems that Brexiteers can’t help but invoke the imagery of a Rambo film to get through the day.
And last night’s Central Lobby curtain call, with former Brexit minister Steve Baker delightedly describing himself in the third person as the “Brexit hardman Steve Baker” was no exception.
Elated that MPs had once again failed to break the Brexit deadlock, Mr Baker thrust himself in-front of the cameras to buff up his tough geezer credentials. Forgetting the unspoken rule from pubs and estates around the country that hardmen never tell anyone they are a hardman, Mr Baker puffed: “Well everyone knows I’m Brexit hardman Steve Baker as far as I’m aware..”
Never to be outdone, Mark Francois – the Private Pike to Baker’s Captain Mainwaring – took great delight in publicly saying “up yours” to mild-mannered uber wonk Philip Hammond.
And while Mark Francois’ bullying of the bookish chancellor would not go out of place in the schoolyard, it’s not the first time his overly aggressive rhetoric has reared its head.
Last month he delighted in telling everyone about how his army training had made it impossible for him to contemplate defeat, ripped up a copy of the withdrawal agreement live on-air, and then took part in a cringing stare-down with a fellow panellist on Politics Live.
Thankfully he held back from going for his former colleague Nick Boles, who resigned the Conservative whip in a dramatic Commons moment last night.
“I’m not going to criticise Nick Boles because he fought off cancer,” he said.
The whole sorry saga was summed up by fellow Tory MP Huw Merriman who described Mr Baker’s performance as “Dad’s Army without the rations”.
But perhaps undermining Mr Baker’s submission for hardest geezer down’t Red Lion was his emotional appearance on the BBC’s Brexit Storm documentary. Voice cracking with emotion, Mr Baker almost started crying as he revealed how difficult he found it to rebel against his party whip to vote down Theresa May’s deal.
Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Baker?
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Start as you mean to go on. With total and utter bewilderment.