Tory MP calls striking rail workers 'Putin's friends'

As the weather got hotter this week, two constituencies went to the polls for by-elections, people got caught up in strike action, and the Tories sailed Britain through another week of suboptimal terrain.

This week, they provided cack-handed communications about the stikes, meaning union leader Mick Lynch nailed them again and again, they managed to make Brexit look even worse, and they even succeeded in getting another sleaze story back in the news.

So what exactly happened in the week that was?

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Allow us to fill you in, if you can stomach it:

1. A new sleaze scandal dropped

This week a story from The Times about Carrie Johnson disappeared, which claimed the PM tried to secure her a £100,000-a-year job in the Foreign Office in 2018 when she was his girlfriend.

The story was then pulled from later editions of the paper after Number 10 intervened. Ms Johnson’s spokesperson described it as “totally untrue".

Then Michael Fabricant managed to make it sound worse.

2. The Tories preceded over huge strike action

And as Fabricant went off the rails, a big ol' railway worker strike took place this week (the biggest in 30 years) on three separate days. They were led by the union RMT which is is advocating for lower-earning employees' wages to be raised by 7 per cent, and for better conditions.

Negotiations failed so services ground to a halt and people weren't happy.

3. But the Tories blamed the Labour Party

So the Conservative government, which owns Network Rail and has been in charge for 12 years, tried to blame the opposition for the strikes.

Here are a few bizarre examples of their MPs mouthing off at people with very little power to do anything about the strikes rather than you know, using their power to stop the strikes:

4. And an MP called striking workers "Putin's friends"

If that wasn't bad enough, in a lesson on how not to win hearts and minds, Tobias Ellwood reacted to those on strike by claiming they were helping Russia.He said, in an interview with Sky News:

“We're talking about the cost of living crisis here. We face huge economic headwinds yet here we are causing such huge self-harm as the country is brought to a halt.

“I think Russia must be enjoying this self-inflicted distraction, pleased to see that the one government in Europe that is actually standing up to Putin is completely distracted in this way.

“I do hope the unions now call off future planned strikes ... this isn’t just disrupting commuters, including key workers, but also students as well and indeed the hospitality sector.”

He added: “It’s also armed forces weekend this Saturday and that’s where we say thank you to those who serve and have served.“I say to the unions ’please don’t be Putin’s friend - return to the talks today so we can get the country moving again."


5. Inflation soared

And as public transport ground to a halt, people's purses tightened as inflation rose to 9.1 per cent this week, its highest rate in 40 years.

Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, blamed the Tories for the disaster. She said: “Though rapid inflation is pushing family finances to the brink, the low-wage spiral faced by many in Britain isn’t new. Over the last decade, Tory mismanagement of our economy has meant living standards and real wages have failed to grow.”


6. They held a controversial summer fundraising party

With all these disasters simmering, who can blame the Tories for having a night off to chill, and on Monday night that is exactly what they (sort of) did when Kensington’s Victoria and Albert Museum hosted the Conservative Party’s summer fundraising party.

According to the Sarawak Report, tickets to attend the event cost £2,000, where an auction saw prizes such as an African safari, a shooting weekend in Market Harborough and a dinner with Boris Johnson, Theresa May and David Cameron reportedly go for big bucks.

We would pay not to have dinner with the cursed trio, but as they say, a fool and his money is easily parted.

Anyway, it was criticised by protesters outside who saw it as tone-deaf given the cost of living crisis and there also some guests with controversial links.

Read all about the event here.

7. And detailed their Bill of Rights

Meanwhile, this week Dominic Raab, deputy prime minister and justice secretary, shared more details about legislation to mean that European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) case law “does not always need to be followed by UK courts” by making a Bill of Rights.

Raab told the Commons: “Our Bill of Rights will strengthen our proud tradition of freedom, it will demarcate a clearer separation of powers, it will ensure greater respect for our democratic institutions, and it will better protect the public and restore a healthy dose of common sense to the justice system – which is essential for commanding public confidence.

“Ultimately, it will make us freer [and] it will help keep our streets safer.”

But it worried a lot of legal experts.

8. Then struggled to justify Brexit

Ah well, at least - after the sixth anniversary of the referendum - Brexit is going well. Right? Wrong. When talking about how brilliant it is this week, minister for Brexit opportunities Jacob Rees-Mogg spoke about both keeping "phone chargers" and scrapping "funny numbers" in tunnels as two of Brexit's biggest dividends.

Give us strength.

9. Before losing two by-elections...

On Friday morning we woke up to the news that the Tories had lost two by-elections in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton. The former seat went to Labour and the latter to the Liberal Democrats, triggering a classic cringe stunt from their party leader, Ed Davey.

Johnson said he would "keep going", but does anyone want him to?

10. ...And their chairman

And after a less than great result, chairman of the Tory party Oliver Dowden decided he had had enough and put his out of office on. Former leader of the party Michael Howard also called on Johnson to resign.

Ah well, Tories, there's always next week.

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