The real reason behind Tuesday’s Sue Gray delay

Sue Gray delay

Following the Bank Holiday weekend, there was only one story hacks were desperate to write about on Tuesday: the Government’s interim response to Sue Gray’s Labour Party defection. The Cabinet Office publication ended up being something of a damp squib, with rumours that Simon Case had stepped in at the last minute and prevented a much more details-heavy report from being published. 

The real topic grinding the gears of Westminster’s journalists, however, was the long wait for the report to be published at all, eventually coming out just half an hour before print deadlines. 

What was the reason for the immense delay? Legal advice? Concerns about opposition backlash? A deliberate attempt to reduce coverage of the Cabinet Office pausing their investigation thanks to Mrs Gray’s refusal to answer questions?

A passing Whitehall bod provided the answer: a deliberate delay to allow the Department for Health a few extra hours to revel in the positive media coverage from ending the health strikes…

Raab reshuffle continues

While wandering the palace last week, Sir Arbuthnot got into a Commons lift with a man transporting a couple of office chairs. Striking up conversation it transpired that Beachcomber had unwittingly stumbled upon the process of Dominic Raab being unceremoniously kicked out of his ministerial office following his resignation. 

The removal man was an affable chap, joking to yours truly that he was “p***ed off” every time he saw a reshuffle on the news because he knew it signalled a mountain of laborious work for him to deal with. 

Now word reaches Beachcomber that things aren’t all bad for Dominic Raab. Rumour is his new office in Parliament was secured by booting out its previous inhabitant… one Matt Hancock, whose comms man did not answer requests for comment when approached last night. 

MP deciphers the local election code

Beachcomber had a splendidly useful chat with one Tory MP ahead of the local elections, who kindly broke down the mysterious social media codes used by keen party activists after a long session of door-knocking. 

It transpires that a genuinely good day out canvassing can be captioned: “Great response on the doorstep”. 

A bad response from local voters will be accompanied by the phrase: “Very good response on the doorstep”. 

A terrible response from voters calls for: “Great to be out in [x town] today”. 

Though all of these canvassing in-jokes pale in comparison to universally cringeworthy five-second selfie with a Cabinet Meeting, which overly-keen wannabe MPs invariably caption: “Great to catch up with…”

Labour doubles down on Rwanda opposition

Beachcomber’s old enough to remember way back to June 2022, when Labour claimed it was “not involved” with court action to frustrate deportations to Rwanda. 

This claim was hard to defend given the director of one of the main groups blocking take-offs was Detention Action, led by Bella Sankey. 

Labour’s denial of frustrating Government deportation policy was already difficult, given Bella had stood as a Labour MP in 2019 and been endorsed by none other than… Sir Keir Starmer. 

With the Local Election results almost all in, Sir Arbuthnot was therefore unsurprised to see that Ms Sankey is now the new Labour leader of Brighton and Hove council, following the party’s defeat of those right-wing, migrant-hating Greens. 

Presumably Ms Sankey will have to deprioritise her courtroom action as she embarks on cleaning up the mess the Green Party left behind in Brighton…

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