ANNA MIKHAILOVA: Airport law ends 'macho man' Keir's flights of fancy 


ANNA MIKHAILOVA: Airport law ends ‘macho man’ Keir’s flights of fancy

It would be no surprise if tomorrow’s introduction of a new law aimed at stopping people going to an airport without ‘good reason’ (such as a work trip or family emergency) doesn’t bring back awkward memories for Sir Keir Starmer.

Last month, he travelled to Heathrow Airport for what became a much mocked photo op in which he tried to present a macho image of himself to voters by standing next to heavily armed policemen and border security officials.

Word reaches me that this vanity session at Terminal 2, ostensibly to check preparations for the new Covid border regime, resulted in a stern rebuke from Home Office mandarins. They raised concerns with Labour lackeys over the security implications of showing footage of Sir Keir posing next to the airport’s border control area and its new testing centre.

Keir Starmer travelled to Heathrow Airport in what turned out to be a much-mocked photo op

Keir Starmer travelled to Heathrow Airport in what turned out to be a much-mocked photo op

Senior officials even wrote to Sir Keir’s office about a video of briefings with Border Force that broadcasters put online, asking for it to be taken down. Labour last night said the airport visit was signed off by the Home Office.

Separately, I’m told the former human rights barrister has been getting advice on how to come across less ‘lawyery’ – a profession that tends to attract people full of self-regard, aloof in demeanour and stuffy. Sir Keir’s professed love of Northern Soul music – he revealed on Desert Island Discs that he used to do ‘flips, spins and back-drops’ – has yet to lead to any photo opportunities on the dancefloor as nightclubs remain closed. So airports it is for now.

Just before his Heathrow trip, Sir Keir rebuked Boris Johnson for having three taxpayer-funded photographers. How ironic that the PM has the opposite problem to his Labour rival: trying to replace a reputation for buffoonery with gravitas. I have a suggestion for both men. Instead of £5,000 fines for people travelling without good reason to airports, politicians could be charged for vanity shoots there.

It would be a useful revenue-raiser for the Treasury. Perhaps David Cameron could suggest it to Rishi Sunak, in the same way he reportedly sent text messages to the Chancellor’s private phone trying to secure state loans for a company he worked for.

PM plays it by the books at Number 10

Boris Johnson is about to restore an old tradition of Ministers donating books to the Prime Minister’s library, I can reveal. 

Officials are due to ask everyone in the Cabinet to send in a book to beef up the No 10 collection. 

They will also get a special book-plate to sign. 

The tradition, started by Ramsay MacDonald in 1931, is understood to have stopped under Tony Blair. 

The PM will also select a book. As the author of several, will he resist the temptation to pick one of his own – such as his 2004 novel Seventy Two Virgins or 2007’s Life In The Fast Lane?

As for colleagues, the looming reshuffle might affect their choices. Will there be a flood of copies of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go? 

The Prime Minister's Library

Before becoming PM, Boris Johnson wrote some books

Boris Johnson is about to restore an old tradition of Ministers donating books to the Prime Minister’s library, I can reveal.

Politicians are tripping over themselves to show their love of the Union Flag after two BBC presenters were reprimanded for sniggering at Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick’s office flag during an interview. 

And none is more prepared than Darren Henry, a newbie Tory MP who last year splashed out £176 at Flagpole Express – and put it on expenses. The sum would buy several Union Flags and poles for the Broxtowe MP – who, incidentally, previously made headlines for suggesting people using food banks can’t budget properly.

That said, Henry’s spending is a snip compared to the cost of raising three flags inside New Palace Yard at Westminster for Commonwealth Day – including a Union Flag. Freedom of Information data shows almost £7,000 was spent on the flags and poles. 

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