By Tim Montgomerie
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The Prime Minister may not have come out of the last 24 hours particularly well but new Energy Minister John Hayes has had a good energy shambles. I wonder if a new star has been born? How many readers have seen (watch this Guardian clip from just after two minutes in), heard or read about John Hayes' performance at the despatch box yesterday? It took the breath away. The sketchwriters all feasted on his performance. Here is a selection of what they wrote…
Donald Macintyre in The Independent: "When the Labour MP Nick Smith congratulated the minister on his "chutzpah" before asking him if his Department had advised No 10 against the very policy Mr Cameron had announced 24 hours earlier, he said (astoundingly given the notoriously bad relations between his Energy colleagues and George Osborne) that it had "a wonderful relationship" with No 10 and the Treasury: "I say, with appropriate modesty, that that relationship has improved still further since my arrival."
The Daily Mail's
Quentin Letts was equally amazed: "‘Alacrity and the defence of the
common good – the heart of all I do,’ he said at one point, practically
clutching his right breast and removing a tear from his eye. ‘Clarity
is the prerequisite of certainty, certainty is the prerequisite of
confidence and confidence is the prerequisite of investment,’ he said,
quite unscripted… The Government would act ‘in weeks, rather than
months’. He raised his chin and scanned the Chamber to ensure that it
shared his astonishment at the Executive’s sense of urgency."
The Times' Ann Treneman who won sketchwriter of the year yesterday (for the second successive year) awarded Mr Hayes with a prize of her own: "“We all know that you are eloquent in the art of obfuscation,” soothed Labour’s Chris Leslie, “but will you set aside the flim-flam? Were you aware that the PM was going to make this announcement?” Mr Hayes, like an octopus, began to pump out black ink into the air. “The PM comes to this House weekly to be scrutinised. Does he give me notice of every answer and does he get notice of every question? Of course the answer is no.” Labour accused him of “linguistic acrobatics”. Mr Hayes loved that. “I add acrobatic skills to the many qualities been ascribed to me by this House!” It was a masterclass in gobbledegook. “More!” shouted MPs as a modest Mr Hayes bowed out." Taken from The Times (£).
Michael Deacon in The Telegraph wondered if Mr Hayes was a new Boris: "You could almost take him for a junior Boris, except that Mr Hayes is in fact six years older than Mr Johnson. And, if anything, Mr Hayes seems even more showmanlike. Everything he says sounds like a joke, but you aren't always sure whether it’s meant to."
The Speaker loved it too; at one point atrributing "the eloquence of Demosthenes" to the Minister. Ending the session Mr Bercow declared: "I think it is a fair summary to say that the House has enjoyed the scrutiny process over the past half hour." They really had. MPs shouted "More!".