Overheard in Westminster: Elton John visit, Thornberry faces flag foe

Conservative HQ sweeps up their own mess

While Rishi Sunak continues cleaning up Liz Truss’s mess, it turns out the Tory Party’s headquarters round the corner from No. 10 is having a clean-up operation of a different nature.

Beachcomber learns that thanks to the party’s financial crisis after an exodus of donors, they’ve had to scrap their full-time cleaning lady.

The office will be cleaned in the morning, but it will now be up to the staff to keep their areas clean throughout the day.

The cuts don’t stop there – overnight and weekend security is set to be removed from today, meaning researchers, advisors and press officers will no longer be able to access the office out of hours.

It might seem more sensible for the party to scrap its Red Wall HQ up in Leeds if they really need to save cash, though even Beachcomber can see the PR pitfalls with that proposal…

Lady Nugee set to confront her greatest foe

Last week Beachcomber revealed Tory minister Richard Holden was having flag problems, though they pale in comparison to Emily Thornberry’s infamous beef with the St George’s Cross.

After having been fired for seemingly insulting England’s flag during the 2014 Rochester by-election, Mrs Thornberry’s once again riding high in the Labour Party as shadow Attorney General.

This week Politico revealed Labour has instructed the shadow cabinet to make three campaign visits to a specified constituency ahead of the local elections. Emily Thornberry drew Redcar.

Awkwardly, Mrs Thornberry’s train ride there will see her confronted with a patriotic scene on the side of a house facing the tracks that’s certain to spook her.

Instagram away, Lady Nugee…

Britain’s diplomacy is flagging

On the topic of flags, last week’s diary sparked a Whitehall insider to get in touch with this excellent anecdote:

“IPSA shouldn’t be too hard on MPs, I remember the Foreign Office and another department hosting a joint press conference and they had to borrow union flags from Conservative Campaign Headquarters because it turned out there weren’t any in the Foreign Office”

Beachcomber sincerely hopes James Cleverly has rectified this wrong…

Rumour of the week

An MP tells yours truly that after President Zelenskyy’s rockstar visit to Westminster Hall, parliament might shortly be bracing for an even more exciting visit.

Rumour has it that one Elton John may be popping by for a Speakers event to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of gay marriage, which was passed in July 2013.

Now the rumour’s out there, Beachcomber sincerely hopes Sir Lindsay can get the event across the line. Don’t go breaking my heart…

Department of no work and pensions

New statistics handed to Beachcomber this week show the number of civil servants per government department who joined the picket lines at the start of February.

60,643 members of the blob went on strike, however the departmental breakdown makes for interesting reading.

Fewer than five members of staff went on strike from the Northern Ireland and Scotland offices, and just 6 civil servants from the Welsh department walked out.

Coming in second for picketing mandarins was the Home Office with 10,195 walkouts, however the top spot, ironically, went to the Department for Work and Pensions.

28,597 civil servants left that department on the day to join their comrades picketing along Whitehall.

Perhaps their attitude to work explains Britain’s workforce crisis…

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