George Osborne offers Tories tutorial on winning Commons votes in Twitter spat with ex-colleagues
A row between the Tories and the Evening Standard has escalated to exactly where everyone who loves intra-party drama wanted it to go.
George Osborne raised many an eyebrow in 2017 when he joined the London daily as its editor ahead of Theresa May's snap election.
It came despite him having little experience as a journalist and amid conflict of interest fears over his political links.
The former Tory chancellor, and strong critic of Brexit, has embraced the freedom however, and on Thursday seemed more than happy to weigh in behind his reporters in a sass battle with his old employers' social media team.
The blue-on-blue exchange began after the Standard reported on a Tory “fake news” row, after party bosses claimed that Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal had “passed” the Commons.
The bill had only been given the nod at its second reading however, before it was paused as MPs’ refused to back the PM’s bid to rail through the latter stages in the coming days.
The paper’s headline prompted the Tories to shoot back: "This is simply not true. And in the Standard's own words MPs passed the new deal.
"Boris Johnson's bill passed by 329 to 299 on Tuesday night, but the proposed three-day timetable for Commons debates on his plan was rejected."
Old habits die hard, and sensing an opportunity for some time-honoured Tory one-upmanship, Osborne was more than happy to highlight Johnson's less than stellar run of results in the Commons, having lost almost every vote since taking over in July.
The former Chancellor gleefully tweeted: "I think you’ll find the team @EveningStandard know the difference between a bill passing its second reading in the Commons and a bill passing Parliament."
"I know it’s been a while since the latter happened, but I’m happy to come in and explain how it’s done."
As the retweets rolled in, Osborne took his chance to further help out the marginalised pro-European wing of the party.
He added: “Step one: don’t kick Ken Clarke out of the Tory Parliamentary Party ..."
While the "natural successor to David Cameron" label may have deserted him, that true-blue instinct of sniping at those you don't see eye-to-eye with clearly has not.
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Start as you mean to go on. With total and utter bewilderment.