The return of the Tory howler monkeys


If you’re some sort of masochist with especially recondite tastes, or perhaps if you’ve already binged watched your way through the entire Netflix catalogue as you lay on the sofa in your pyjamas over the past couple of months, you may have subjected yourself to Prime Minister’s Questions broadcast from the House of Commons during lockdown. It’s a peculiarly different experience from normal, without the rows of braying donkeys behind him moonlighting from their usual job providing canned heehaws for crappy sitcoms, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson stands exposed and stripped of his usual schtick. He’s left as a bully without his gang, an exhibitionist without an audience, a performing seal without a ball balanced on its snout slapping its flippers helplessly together in the hope someone notices how clever it is.

This is why the British Government is so desperate to get MPs to return to the Commons. It’s got nothing to do with health advice, nothing to do with that science they always tell us that they’re following. It’s got everything to do with ensuring that the performer whose stage name is Boris Johnson has an audience of fans who will cheer and clap him, and more importantly jeer, boo, and heckle his opponents.

Johnson is the political version of that old philosophy question, if a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? The answer to that question, by the way, is yes but no one cares and maybe if you stopped smoking so much weed then you wouldn’t wonder about such stupid questions – now go and watch Rick and Morty and stop bothering me. In Johnson’s case the question is if a Johnson performs at Prime Minister’s Questions and there’s no Tory howler monkeys to cheer him and heckle his opponents, is he a prime minister at all? The answer to that second question is no. But then the answer to that second question is still going to be no even when Johnson does have his rows of howler monkeys to assist his act. It’s just that with the howler monkeys from the Tory shires, the British Government hopes that it will be harder for the rest of us to notice that we’ve got a bumbling and shambling excuse for an after dinner speaker instead of a Prime Minister. There’s no amount of weed smoking that’s going to make anyone not care about that.

It’s in order to save Johnson’s sorry arse that Jacob Rees Mogg, Leader of the House and the Honourable Member for Self-Isolating in the 18th century, has announced a plan to end remote working in the House of Commons. For the period of lockdown, MPs have been able to vote on motions and participate in committee meetings and debates online. It’s been a remarkable experiment in bringing the British Parliament into at least a nodding acquaintance with the 21st century. Most MPs have agreed that the new system has worked well. It’s allowed them a tiny taste of what it must be like to represent their constituencies as though they were politicians in a proper grown up country, and not participants in a mock-mediaeval charade invented by Victorians in search of a tradition.

Naturally Jacob doesn’t like any of this at all, because if a vote can’t be recorded with a goose quill dipped in ink hand-made from the burnt ashes of witches and inscribed upon parchment made from the flayed skin of peasants who’ve been convicted of failing to doff their caps, Jacob doesn’t think it really counts. So he’s announced a plan to ensure that MPs must attend debates in person, and vote the old fashioned way by queueing up in the Commons and being counted individually in the crowded voting lobbies. Even the House of Lords is set to continue remote working for the time being, but those ermine clad relics of privilege and patronage are far too modern for Jacob.

In order to preserve social distancing and ensure that MPs remain 2 metres apart, the plan means that if all MPs are present, the queue for voting will be 1300 metres long. Although Jacob doesn’t like that Frenchified modern metric stuff, so to put it in terms he’d understand, that’s about the length of 26 Rapunzel worth’s of hair. The voting line would exit the House of Commons, and stretch all the way to the Lego Store in Leicester Square, where MPs could amuse themselves during the time that voting now takes to build a model of Boris Johnson out of lego. It would be considerably more competent than the real one.

However many MPs would be unable to attend the Commons. Some MPs are shielding because they are members of high risk groups, others are responsible for looking after relatives or spouses and can’t do a Dominic and rush off to Durham, others will struggle to attend due to travel restrictions. MPs from Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland will effectively be forced to break the lockdown restrictions which remain in force there. The plan not only puts MPs at risk, it also puts at risk all the people who work at the House of Commons. There are some 3000 staff members in various support roles in the Palace of Westminster.

The British Government’s plan has been condemned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, although equality and human rights have never hitherto figured high on the Tories’ list of priorities and they’re certainly not about to start now. The only Human Right they’re interested in is the right of the Conservative party to cover up how the Prime Minister consistently makes an arse of himself whenever he’s forced to appear in the Commons.

Since many MPs will be unable to attend, the plan effectively reduces what limited oversight MPs are able to exercise over the British Government. It disenfranchises millions of people whose MPs will not be able to go to the Commons in person, and allows the Conservatives to continue to get away with murder. It means that those MPs who are themselves most at risk and so who are best able to articulate the fears and concerns of high risk groups in the population will be unable to attend parliament and ensure that those groups are represented. It’s yet another nail in the coffin of the tattered legitimacy of what passes for democracy in the British state.

And finally, because we could all do with a laugh during these difficult times …

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48 thoughts on “The return of the Tory howler monkeys

  1. Pingback: The return of the Tory howler monkeys | speymouth

  2. Since when did MPs actually attend debates before voting? Has the bar been moved intp the chamber?

  3. Watching the leaders movers and shakers and decision makers of the UK right now and their combined brain power applied to the latest voting system

    I’ve been to Edinburgh Zoo many times and even Penguins can decide where they’re going
    Chimps would refuse to perform like this no matter how many cups of PG Tips you offered them

    The rest of the world should just Nuke England and get it over with, the embarrassment to Scotland is much greater than I can stand

    Scotland invented stuff that cured the world of illness for God sake and this is what England comes up with in the year of our Lord 2020, they can’t even learn how to press an electronic button

  4. If only a few privileged and/or reckless MPs can actually attend the HoC in person and the rest are excluded by withdrawal of the online service, parliamentary scrutiny at Westminster is dead. And effectively we have a dictatorship masquerading as a democracy. (Instead of a howling echo chamber masquerading as a democracy, I suppose, but still, it’s another lurch down to the gutter. High time anyway for us to be gone.)

  5. Hi Paul
    I expect hardly anyone watches PMQ’s even with all the time on their hands at the moment. I do and the performance against Starmer has been stark and brutal and fun.
    However, pace your last piece, Starmer can’t lay a glove on him in the polls.

    This will all be over one day. In 4 years all the usual suspects will have rallied around him while simultaneously rubbishing Labour and the “dangerous”(?) Starmer. The workers in England I’m supposed to have solidarity with will vote him back in again.

    Round and round it goes.

  6. Any SNP MP stuck in or around Westminster should immediately make plain they are removing themselves from Westminster , if one can’t vote we all can’t vote , The SNP need to approach every News organisation and point out democracy has effectively ground to a halt , Scotland has no representation in Westminster as such it’s their belief the union is dissolved , any legislation passed in these circumstances is therefore not recognised , in short fku Westminster .

  7. Sky’s early evening news programme shows it up,mp being interviewed, I have to go now he says,that’s the division bell, so hadn’t been in the house for the amendment discussion.
    Love the lack of IRONY from rabb lecturing the Chinese on their lack of democracy in Hong Kong.
    The 18th century mp, mogg, decides to put parliament back to the stone age with a vote,a whipped vote,when he didn’t allow time for mps who were restricted by travel,illness and cummings like family commitments to travel.
    You’ve had your democracy westmonster style.

  8. Off topic, so apologies and a share of good news and bad news.

    Good news. Just received the latest copy of Independence Magazine through the post and am delighted to tell you that I am the winner of this month’s Prize Draw. I am to receive a framed, personal letter from Nicola Sturgeon, through the post in due course. News made my day – and will make it again when I receive the letter. I’ll keep you all posted.

    Bad news. (Although, I guess it had to happen at some stage during the lockdown, to keep “us” occupied. Channel 4 on Sunday 7 June @ 1.30 pm are showing in its entirety the 1966 Football World Cup Final. You know, the one our neighbours keep on and on and b—–y on about – and then whinge they haven’t won anything since. Just to let you all put a note in your diaries of when would be appropriate time to walk the dug, wash your hair, count the ants in that ant hill at the bottom of the garden … other than go through that Anglofest another b——y time.

    I am also aware that they’ve resurrected an old The Chase Celebrity Special on the same day on ITV @ 6.30 pm featuring the Mooth.

    Definitely a day to avoid the googlebox, Scotland!

  9. Some sort of responsible officialdom has to come up with something pretty quick, otherwise this too, will be another joker card for their shambolic government procedures.
    Stick the rapier in from the bonnie land SNP MPs…
    Don’t let them get away with it.

  10. Adam has asked me to pass this on to you. If you don’t join, I hope that you don’t do so for the wrong reason.

    The wrong reason I hear from many Scots, good, reliable, friendly, independence loving supporters all is that they can’t be Members of SNP *and* Plaid Cymru, because there is “something” in the Constitution of either (or both) Parties that prevents membership of two or more Parties at the same time.

    Let me repeat what I say to such people (and I have the backing of others – like me – who *are* Members of both Plaid and SNP. The disqualification as two or more Memberships of political parties *ONLY* applies when those parties are competing with each other for seats. SNP is limited to fighting for seats in Scotland. Plaid Cymru contests seats solely in Wales. In no shape or form are they “competing” against each other in various constituencies for the same electorates. When did you see a Plaid Cymru candidate in Glasgow Cathcart? Is Nicola Sturgeon the Member of the Senedd for Cardiff Central?

    The fact is Plaid and SNP are the national parties of their respective countries – Wales and Scotland – and their aim is the freedom of their respective countries and their peoples from Westminster. In that, we have common purpose, and there is understanding and co-operation between both parties at a Westminster level – and beyond.

    I therefore urge you all to consider and remember that your fight is our fight. Your people are our people. Our dreams of independence are yours. We are stronger when we are joined in unity of purpose and raising our voices together for our mutual good.

    And with that – over to Adam:


    Last week, 500 people joined YesCymru – the non-partisan movement for Welsh independence. Buoyed by the simplest and truest of notions that Wales deserves better than the charlatanism which has defined the Westminster government in recent days, the independence cause is now firmly in the mainstream.

    With less than a year until the Senedd elections, a Plaid Cymru victory on 6th May 2021 offers the only prospect of a pro-independence First Minister whose government would deliver the change for the people of Wales to choose an independent future.

    Allowing Labour to limp towards another five years in power would merely entrench Wales’s problems which have worsened on their watch – stagnant wages, growing waiting lists and slipping standards in our schools. Similarly, people here will look to Westminster and think twice before casting a vote for a Conservative party that will only emulate the mounting chaos crippling the current UK Government.

    Our party’s message is simple – empower us, and we will empower you. Elect a Plaid Cymru government that trusts the people of Wales to make decisions for themselves and believes that a nation’s future should be shaped by everyone who chooses to call her home.

    But to create and build that future, we need to work together.

    Help us get there today by doing one simple thing for our movement – recruit just one of your friends to become a member of Plaid Cymru.

    If we all did it, we could double our membership overnight.

    Choose a friend or relative and ask them today to join our party.

    Tros Gymru / For Scotland

  11. I think it goes a lot further than just supplying a chorus line to back up Johnson. The Cabinet office has been handing out deals and contracts to party donors and major corps, apparently many if not all those deals have non disclosure clauses. These deals as yet have not been subject to any scrutiny by committee or parliament. Ministers can’t be prosecuted if their actions are sanctioned by parliament, so I would anticipate some sort of retrospective parliamentary approval sought over those deals.

    • Indeed, in addition to your points the absence of a tender process could make the presence of only Tory MPs in rubber stamping them somewhat awkward retrospectively.
      Not forgetting the imminent deadline for Brexit extension of course, not that this has any bearing on “democracy” with a resident unelected bureaucrat in place, even with long range visual acuity issues…

      • Yes you are of course correct, and we are aware of some of those deals, the testing and app contracts for example. However, the sums of money allegedly involved don’t make sense if viewed only in the context of the coronavirus, and that’s the point, we don’t know what they are for.

  12. I fear we are going to lose England this summer. It’s been chaos on the Fylde coast since Friday – a huge influx of visitors, the beach and promenade have been the busiest I’ve ever seen in the 14 years I’ve lived here. Blackpool has the highest rate of infections in the Northwest presently and the town has been packed each day. We had a double stabbing in St Annes this afternoon – two streets away from me – and several shops have been held up in the last 10 days. There are no police – Blackpool currently has a 54% sickness rate in uniformed officers and CID – but there is one rapid response unit and a helicopter, from events earlier today.

    I think America will find it very difficult to recover now – goodness knows what the R0 is presently. The true death toll fro the events in the last week won’t be know for some weeks yet – and it’s far from over. How terribly sad. And we all know how divided the UK has become – it won’t take much to light the fuse down here now. I can’t even watch the daily briefings without provoking a fury – and how dare Rees Mogg. The proceedings in the House today were farcical.

    And there is Julian Assange, who was to unwell to attend his extradition hearing yesterday. What an awful place we have allowed to ferment. Never again.

    Do let me know when Scotland is open to ex-pats and displaced Fifers again. I think it’s time to come home.

  13. God you couldn’t make this stuff up. Sounds pretty nasty but I hope that the Boris erse-licker, Ian Murray, was one of the MP’s that was caught in the lift. And will he be honest and transparent and name the names of those who may ultimately prove to be a threat to us?

    ‘This is how infections spread’: MPs criticise chaotic voting scenes in House of Commons.’

    ..”There were also complaints that social distancing rules had to be abandoned after a group of MPs got stuck in a ‘traffic jam’ at the bottom of an escalator.”


    Pete they don’t give a sh*t about the Scots and that includes, more so, our MP’s. And does Alister Jack actually live in Scotland? Our schools don’t return until August. Maybe someone should remind him. Ian Murray who became the Nike witchfinder general seems to be quite happy to break the Scottish lockdown rules and travel around 400 miles to visit the coronavirus capital now. Let’s hope that he doesn’t infect anyone in Edinburgh when he returns to Scotland.

    • Petra unfortunately Ian Blackford was in the Commons chamber today asking a question of Hancock. Technically Mr Blackford has gone against the advice of the Scottish Government and travelled from Skye to London so he’s done the same as Murray. Blackford and any other SNP WM MP should stay home and defy the Mogg.

  14. Unfortunately Mark we have our own unthinking residents who only get their information from the englander media.
    We have seen local parks full of people who believe that the virus war has been won.
    Still find it hard to believe that Cumbria is still a huge hotspot and the schools are opening by a decree from a part time pm, 2 hours a week in public and no weekend work.
    Had a look at tracker24 over the weekend to find that private aircraft were flying to Newcastle from Scotland and returning, that is also a hotspot, 8000 new cases a day in englandland.
    The handcock’s tracking is reported as less than 2000 people since it was started with a staff of 25,000. He said good to have capacity,strange times,they closed a whole floor of our local hospital as it had too much capacity barely 5 years ago.

  15. Seems to me the SNP have been handed the opportune reason not to ever attend Westminster again. I have no doubt if Nicola is fully behind Independence she will take it. Anything else will be seen as a repudiation of the independence project and the need for a new leader.

    • [commment removed by WGD]

      Clive – if you want to disagree with someone, do so respectfully. Abuse is not tolerated here.

    • “Anything else will be seen as a repudiation of the independence project and the need for a new leader.”

      No Mbiyd, it won’t. It will only be seen in that light by a small number of vocal people on social media.

  16. I’m amazed at the number of posters who will visit Independence blogs sorely for the sake of attacking the SNP and in particular Nicola Sturgeon. They don’t bother with whatever the article is about it’s straight on to getting rid of Sturgeon and how she is in some way preventing Independence.

    Then again I’m not amazed at all, she frightens them and that is why there are so many posters who do not want to discuss any point of view raised in the article that they post under. For them, it’s just an opportunity to attack the leader of the SNP. They have no interest in putting forward a point of view in anything else. You see the same names all the time and can’t miss them.

    They’re wasting their time though, only political anoraks are reading the political blogs and support for Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland is going through the roof (80%+ in the last poll) and that’s what is freaking them out. All the naysayers should take the rest of the year off as they are wasting their time.

    Support for Independence has increased and will continue to increase with Nicola Sturgeon at the helm. A leader that is trusted, not just in Scotland but across the UK. How’s that for a poke in the eye with a sharp needle 🙂

    • Agreed. The fact is we need to persuade previous No’s and the undecided and this what the Scottish government is doing, arguably by stealth. Have they made mistakes yes, but compared to Johnson, Gove, Rees-mogg, Hancock and co they are almost an angelic host! The deliberate and malicious undermining of the First Minister is doing the work of the britnats. Of course maybe that is what some of the posters are already.

  17. MP’s were not allowed to vote today unless they attended in person, so it is a difficult one for sure.

    The truth of the matter though is that in Scotland many normal working people have to use public transport every day in order just to get to work. In almost all cases these jobs are deemed to be “key workers” and in order to do their job they physically have to be there.

    That is not the case in Westminster where a system had already been set up so as it was possible for MP’s to work from home. If they could work from home then they shouldn’t be there and that is still the case.

    Rees Mogg was out of order in insisting that this vote had to be in person, he was able to do that because the rules that put remote voting in place had expired, on principle my view is that the SNP should not have sent any MP’s to Westminster and they should have boycotted the vote. As usual though there may be more to this than meets the eye. I’ll wait and see.

    I would love to see them refuse now to take part in debates at Westminster on health and safety issues.

  18. I agree Alex.

    As I see it Nicola is not prepared to be, or to be seen to be, opportunistic in the middle of a pandemic that threatens Scottish lives. This is a principled position at a time when the Brits are increasingly being exposed as unprincipled chancers.

    Of course, there is zero doubt that the media will set out to crucify her as soon as the pandemic is over – even before then if they can – but increasing numbers of Scots will take confidence from having a resolute, principled leader at the helm. This will be a critical factor when Scotland is invited again to take back its independence.

    I have advocated for independence all my life and we have never been closer to achieving it. Pursuing it is not a childish game. When it is achieved Scotland will need to have an informed adult populace that understands and is committed to rebuilding the country. Replacing John Bull shit with a Scottish version isn’t a way forward. I am confident that Nicola, Jeane, Joanna, Philippa etc understand that.

    • When I look at what the other parties have to offer I just picture Jackass Charlie standing at the podium with health minister Miles Briggs giving their daily press briefing. Even better is imagining Roxy Littlespoon and his health minister Monica Lennon answering questions from the Britnat media and it all being broadcast live.

      I think any of that lot would make Scotland a laughing stock, we’re lucky, even very lucky to have what we have. I think many Scots that might never have noticed before are having their eyes opened and are starting to pay more attention.

      I can only talk for myself and my own but I am so glad that we right now have Nicola Sturgeon in charge in Scotland and not Boris Johnson when it comes to matters of lifting the lockdown. I am also so glad that it is neither of the so called Scottish opposition in charge as they would more than likely fold and just do what Johnson told them to do.

      I don’t want to sound alarming but I believe a second wave is inevitable and it’s just a question of when it will happen. The lower we can get the number of new infections per day down then the better we will fare when this happens. My opinion is based on what I’ve read and I’m sure both Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson are prepared for a second wave too.

      Just differently prepared if you know what I mean.

      • If the Scottish Tories were in power at Holyrood there would be no daily Covid briefing from Scotland. We would only get the Number 10 briefing because as Jackson and Jack have told us that there is no border between Scotland and England.

        • I think No10 may be about to cancel their daily briefing altogether. Ratings too low apparently. Given their way with numbers they may just have misread the graph!

          They may also argue ‘now that Parliament is back…’!

  19. Wish I had something clever to say, but seeing another fat lying bastard destroy democracy in America today was difficult and painful to watch. Watching Thunderpants & Gargamel make a mockery of parliament, because Thunderpants is shit at being a decent Human Being, just fills me with so much revulsion and disgust. Disgust at him. His party. The Government. The spinless BBC and much of the UK media. Finally there is the well of contempt I hold the so called opposition parties in and it is bottomless.

  20. After listening to the handcock on death rate in the defined BAME statistic a thought.
    How many mps died from the virus?,answer ZERO.
    How many from the defined BAME group were victims,LOTS,seemingly Essential workers.
    QED,a bit of Greece.
    Mps are not essential workers.
    The handcock says there’s work to be done, sorry matt boy they appear to be dead and unless you have some power we don’t see,they’re staying dead.
    My take is that mps are economically immune to to virus,the essential workers the opposite.

  21. They say it’s racism but if you remove black people it’ll be Indians and Pakistanis next, if you remove them it becomes Latin folk then Jewish people then white immigrants then it goes all the way back to poor white people where it started

    There’s a certain group of people in the world who are just born to be entitled and we’ve got them right here as well, the colour, the language, the culture, are just all tools the entitled people use to manipulate and destroy everything that’s not them, although they know they still need a certain amount of us to work for them, and from time to time that is an irritation to them because they do have to demonstrate that they’re in charge in case we get above ourselves and begin to believe we’re equal

    Remember us vermin in Scotland, we come in all colours

    • Very true Dr. Jim, our oldest form of racism is between supporters of varying religious groups. Although very strong still with some fellow Scots it is declining as most of us abandon the belief in fairies, spirits and gods.

  22. On Hong Kong

    The rabb said it was 350,000 with old passports.
    Boris Johnson has pledged to allow nearly three million Hong Kong citizens the right to live and work indefinitely in the UK, with a route to full citizenship, if China imposes a controversial new national security law on the city.

    The prime minister described the potential move as “one of the biggest changes in our visa system in history”.

    They’re making it up.
    Where would they manage to find shelter?,jobs,medical facilities.

    Plenty of room up north I’m thinking is the solution.

    The doris is taking back control.

    • Yeah allow 3 million people from Hong Kong the right to live here, and that includes Scotland, as Priti Patel and the Home Office decide to throw decent, hard working people out of Scotland and we have no say. A Nation of equals right enough.


      Victoria Debyshire interviewed one of England’s contact tracers this morning. A nurse by profession. She’s been paid around £17 an hour and has worked for 38 hours (£646 of taxpayers money so far) and heard from no one, such as a supervisor. Contacted no one. Another Westminster botch-up.


      Check out Professor John Robertson’s site.


      Check out Ann’s links on the Indyref2 site. Loads of information on there today.

    • Dave,
      I suspect that Boris has made that offer based on the assumption that China won’t let them leave. He might be in for a shock.

  23. The talk around what Scotland would look like if labour or any of the opposition were in charge is interesting.

    Trying too keep up with my reading (whilst waiting on books arriving) i picked up one of my old Rebus novels The naming of the Dead, Set in July 2005 during the G8 summit at Gleneagles.

    If you have not read it its a cracking read.
    It also made me realise how much Scotland has changed in the last 15 years.

    At the time McConnell was slavering over the elite and spouting his ‘The best wee country in the world crap’ oh how i hated that nonsense.

    In the book the Met and special branch are allowed to run riot over Edinburgh and Gleneagles, Geldof and his merry band were also given centre stage while the Scots take a back seat. (There’s a surprise) anyhow can you imagine Nicola or any of her cabinet allowing that to happen now.

    Scotland is indeed a different country, Amen to that.

  24. So Smogg the blast from the past (Enid Blyton for adults springs to mind) wants the so called UK parliament to be an exclusive club now does he. Non of this fancy 21st century mod con shenannigans in good old Britannia, wot! Only good old fashioned exclusion and collusion will do here! The old fashioned cons instead.

    Behind closed doors good old Blightly style of politics, we can’t have these Scots voting from their cosy crofts in North Britain! Shut them out, and no cameras either, far too open, transparent and democratic, we can’t have the plebs having a say, especially not the Jocks!

    ‘Take back control’, the Tory mantra, code for scrapping democracy light, and replacing it with a one party free for all Tory regime, enabling them to bag some lucrative contracts, to top up the cash they already take from the public purse. Right under the noses of the people what’s not to like! A pandemic, a perfect opportunity to raid the coffers and escape with no one to hold these lying scheming troughers to account.

    Surprised the Tories and their red Tory pals don’t wear masks, if they did at least we’d see the real them, the robbers and thieves.

    A millionaire/billionaire opportunists heaven. Hell on earth for many others.

    The UK is royally screwed, Scotland will need to escape before it really is too late. Brexit, no human rights, locked up in your own country, and not because of a virus being the threat to your livelihood and life. England’s Brexit will destroy Scotland, so we get the hell out before that happens!

  25. Andrea Leadsom admitted that children are smarter than the House of Commons

    In a TV interview Ms Leadsom said that online voting cannot continue in case 6 year olds voted for fun
    I can see that as a definite worry and a well known fact that 6 year olds are glued to their computers during debates in the House of Commons, with their sticky little fingers poised waiting to press enter to register their opinion on matters pertaining to the day’s politics, of course that’ll be right after they’ve navigated the code to enter the website that allows them to do that, little hackers that they are

    One wonders what kind of 6 year olds Ms Leadsom has in her family

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