Truss chaos makes ousting of Boris Johnson look tame

Panicked and embarrassing carry-on in London would be funny if it wasn’t so troubling

The spectacle – and that is really the only word for it – of UK politics moved up a gear last night, even if that seemed impossible. The scenes in and around the House of Commons on Wednesday made the ousting of Boris Johnson over the summer look positively tame. First, the resignation of home secretary Suella Braverman over a scarcely believable pretext of using a personal email account for work; then utter confusion over the whipping of a vote on fracking, culminating in allegations made in the house that Tory members had been bullied and physically manhandled in the voting lobbies; then confusion over whether the chief and deputy chief whip had resigned their roles (they hadn’t, but ITV’s Robert Peston reported this was only because they “unresigned” having done so). The deputy chief whip was reported to have left the scene declaring himself to be “absolutely f*cking furious, I just don’t f*cking care any more”.

As one British newscaster put it on Wednesday evening it is, in short, “total, absolute, abject chaos”. The panicked and embarrassing carry-on would be funny if it wasn’t so troubling, playing out against the backdrop of economic turmoil and the cost-of-living crisis. It surely now is only a matter of time for Liz Truss – who was already on the ropes after a bruising prime minister’s questions that was supposed to be the low point of her day, before all hell really broke loose. The verdict on that from the Guardian was that “Liz Truss is finished. Her MPs know it. The country knows it. We’re all just filling in time waiting for a definite sell-by date. Waiting for the Tory party to do the humane thing.”

More details on an extraordinary day here.

It all makes whatever modicum of drama Irish politics offers up seem rather limp by comparison, but it’s worth marking that Marc MacSharry’s now-tortured return to the Fianna Fáil fold hit a speed bump last night.


Return of The Bert (again)

For (by our count) only the third time since he stepped down, Bertie Ahern is back before an Oireachtas committee this afternoon. The former taoiseach was first back in July 2015 for his appearance before the banking inquiry. Since then he has cemented a place as a commentator on Northern Irish and Brexit-related issues, in particular. This was the context for his last appearance, in 2017, and again provides the backdrop for today’s session before the Good Friday committee as one of the “architects of the Good Friday Agreement”. Ahern is likely to be indulged and encouraged to expand on the Agreement as the core component of his legacy – certainly in his telling. But legacies are complicated things, and you don’t get to determine what your own is. His appearance comes amid ongoing chatter about him being allowed back into Fianna Fáil, after Micheál Martin indicated he would be open to it. Whether there is a ceiling on Ahern’s rehabilitation remains to be seen, but the ghosts of the financial collapse and the Mahon Tribunal loom large for many people – especially outside the Leinster House bubble.

Best reads

Newton Emerson, as usual, is essential on the crossover between Irish and Northern Irish politics.

Miriam Lord on the run on the buckets in a leaky Leinster House.

Not a read in the strictest sense of the word, but our Inside Politics podcast features Fintan O’Toole on his “Up the ‘Ra” column and ongoing turmoil in Westminster. A must-listen.


Helen McEntee is taking oral questions in the Dáil at 9am, followed by Stephen Donnelly at 10.30am. Leaders’ Questions is at midday, with Government Business taking up most of the afternoon – including amendments to the Regulation of Lobbying Bill. Topical issues is at 8pm, before a Private Members’ Bill which would criminalise the act of causing or coercing a minor to be in possession of a controlled substance. That’s brought by Sinn Féin deputies Mark Ward, Denise Mitchell and Martin Kenny. The Dáil adjourns for the week at 10pm. Full schedule is here.

McEntee is also out at the Institute of International and European Affairs at 11.30am, to talk about combating domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. As a brief aside, former cabinet minister and Labour Party leader Ruairí Quinn announced yesterday that he is to step down as chairman of the think tank.

There will be a focus on Brussels, where Taoiseach Micheál Martin is attending a meeting of the European Council. The EU leaders will discuss energy, Ukraine and economic issues – but it looks unlikely a deal will be struck on the vexed question of capping gas prices. Pat Leahy is there for us.

In the evening, Paschal Donohoe is in the monkey suit for the Dublin Chamber of Commerce dinner at the convention centre. Catherine Martin is visiting the United States.

The Seanad will debate extending the franchise of the university panel to all people over 18 who hold a third-level qualification from an Irish institute of higher education, as well as a Bill to establish a non-statutory register – to be known as the Certificate of Life – to recognise a child that does not conform to WHO stillbirth standards. Full schedule is here.

Committees kick off at 9.15am. The gender equality committee continues its hearings on the report of the Citizens’ Assembly. The disability committee will hear from service users and advocacy groups on supporting people with disabilities to live in communities, and the Public Accounts Committee meets officials from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform – both of those are at 9.30am. As mentioned above, the return of The Bert is at 1.30pm. Full running order is here.