“Senatores grata patria!”
As Leader of the House of Commons, it has fallen to oneself to smooth our return to Mother Parliament and one is resolved to ensure that as we do so, things are kept as straightforward as possible.
The last three months have been intolerable and tedious for us all. Trapped in our manor houses, unable to show off our knowledge of obscure historical precedents or debate even the most inconsequential of bills, many of us have been obliged to do little more than field tiresome correspondence from ‘constituents’ and affect an interest in their concerns.
For one’s own part, being cooped up in a pokey 18 bedroom country pile has very much tested the mettle. At times the tapestries in the East Wing felt as if they were closing in and it was almost impossible to ostentatiously catch up on the life of Livius Andronicus, as one’s concentration was frequently distracted by the sound of one’s children laughing merrily in distant out-buildings.
As with so many other ordinary people across the country, this ghastly pestilence has brought considerable personal tragedy to the Rees-Mogg household. For almost three weeks Cook was unable to get goose fat and we were obliged to furlough the under valet as one simply didn’t need the usual quantity of starched collars. Worse still, in March two shipments of Chateaux Margaux ’86 were delayed and on one desperate Sunday afternoon, we came perilously close to running out of sherry.
But we are through it now and with life returning to normal it is time for Westminster to lead the way forward before the hoi polloi start getting ideas.
Of course one does not wish, in so doing, to put the lives of one’s honourable friends at risk and so it is imperative that everyone is up to speed on the new guidelines.
Contrary to what you may think, one has long been an enormous fan of social distancing as one has been practising it for most of one’s life. The only difference is that these new measures apply to us all, regardless of our standing in the social hierarchy. Yes, even you Mr Blackford!
Officially we are being advised to remain (ghastly word) “two metres” apart but frankly one does not wish to sully the oldest and greatest parliament in the world with Napoleonic metrification. So MPs are politely requested to maintain a distance of six feet, five and three quarters of an inch from each other at all times.
Debates will continue as normal, but Labour and other opposition MPs fearful for their health and the risk of tipping us all into collective lassitude, are welcome to stay away.
The new system for voting is so simple that even members of the Liberal Democrats will be able to grasp it.
MPs will form an orderly queue of 60 chains from Westminster Hall, to the statue of Cromwell on the south side of Parliament Square. When everyone is assembled I shall blow my whistle thrice to get your attention and then eight times more to signal that it is time to move. Thence members will form in two lines, one quarter of a furlong apart and proceed at a speed of two knots towards the tellers. It is imperative that as you do so you maintain straight backs and a distance of 78 and a quarter inches from each other. If one has socialist inclinations – or a beard – I would request that you increase that measure to eight yards.
I have arranged for members of the household cavalry to position themselves two chains apart and beat a solemn marching pace on their drums as we proceed to our constitutional duty.
Having voted, MPs are asked to hop on their left leg to the nearest washroom wherein to cleanse their hands while singing all six verses of ‘God Save the Queen’ including the one about decapitating the Scots.
I have been repeatedly asked if the hopping and singing is really necessary, to which the answer is “Yes”.
One is very much looking forward to seeing you all during the new parliamentary term. If you have any questions do please pop them in one’s pigeon hole and I shall endeavour to deign to read them, but only if they have been correctly punctuated and written on vellum.
In the meantime I am your most trusted,
(as told to Otto English)