Tory chairman commits the ultimate Commons crime by 'mistake'
Nobody seems to believes that Brandon Lewis made an honest error.
As crimes go in the House of Commons, it doesn’t get much worse than breaking a "pairing" deal. And the crime is even more heinous if it’s a knife-edge vote. And the MP you are supposed to be paired with is on maternity leave.
So it was understandable that Jo Swinson was seething with anger when Brandon Lewis committed the ultimate Commons crime against her on Tuesday night.
The Tory party chairman had agreed not take part in two crunch votes so that the Lib Dem deputy leader could care for her newborn son. But he then voted anyway.
“I’m sorry Jo. I think it was an honest mistake made by the whips in fast-moving circumstances” he tweeted a few hours later. “I know how important the pair is to everyone, especially new parents, and I apologise.”
Chief whip Julian Smith also apologised but even Tory insiders acknowledged that the excuses would have sounded slightly more convincing had the Tory chairman not abstained in all the other seven votes yesterday but then took part in the two that were on a knife-edge.
Naturally, Swinson and many Labour MPs on social media were not buying the excuses for a second.
Jo Swinson used the c word:
“Don't try any nonsense about a mistake - this is calculated, deliberate breaking of trust by govt whips @JulianSmithUK to win at all costs. Brandon abstained in afternoon divisions, but voted in the two crunch votes after 6pm. There's a word for it - cheating.”
Matthew Pennycook showed off his literary credentials to make the same point:
“'A hypocrite', William Hazlitt once wrote, 'despises those whom he deceives'. Does Lewis seriously expect anyone to believe that the Tory whips asked him to vote only in yesterday's two most critical divisions and no others 'in error'? This Government is rotten to the core.”
Angela Eagle got straight to the point:
“Tories cheated on the pairing arrangements - can't trust a word they say.”
And other Labour MPs including Melanie Onn and Owen Smith showed their disbelief by simply retweeting the editor of PoliticsHome....