Labour not laughing as Tory MP falls asleep in Commons for a ‘joke’
Watch: Desmond Swayne grabbed 40 winks as his Tory colleague spoke about Brexit.
Conservative grandee Ken Clarke is widely considered to be one of parliament’s best speakers. But one fellow Tory MP does not seem to be appreciating his colleague’s oratory.
As Clarke spoke in the Commons on the EU Withdraw Bill, Sir Desmond Swayne appeared to nod off. After around 40 seconds he woke up and a smile crept across his lips.
What was he up to? The Conservative MP for New Forest West later claimed that an early morning swim was to blame. "I was in the Serpentine at 0530 and on the 11th day we have debated this bill, it took its toll," he said.
But some Westminster insiders smelled a rat, noting that action man Swayne has been starting his day by swimming a quarter of a mile in the Serpentine lake for many years now. It has not caused him to nod off before…
The former parliamentary private secretary to David Cameron would also have known he was in shot and that any power nap would be caught on TV, colleagues said.
Labour MPs including Toby Perkins concluded that the Brexit-backing MP was having a laugh.
"Think it was supposed to be a ‘joke’," said Perkins on Twitter.
He added icily: "If Desmond Swayne had a brain a tenth of the size of Ken Clarke's, he'd realise why this diminishes him not the person he's mocking."