Why Westminster palace is increasingly being called ‘Pestminster’

Pestminster” is not the name of a new pesticide. It’s what the Palace of Westminster, home to British Parliament, has come to be known after a series of sex scandals involving MPs and ministers

Why Westminster palace is increasingly being called  ‘Pestminster’

Hasan Suroor

Westminster is now Sexminster

“Pestminster” is not the name of a new pesticide. It’s what the Palace of Westminster, home to British Parliament, has come to be known as after a series of sex scandals involving MPs and ministers.

In the past two weeks alone, two senior Tory MPs have been in the headlines over allegations of rape and sexual assault. In fact, in one case it’s no longer just allegations : Charlie Elphicke has been convicted and is awaiting a possible jail sentence after being found guilty of sexual assaults in two cases, including one in which he forced himself on a woman at his home and chased her round the kitchen chanting : “I’m a naughty Tory!”

A former party whip and married father of two, he is the first MP in a generation to be convicted of sexual assault. After the allegations first emerged, the then Tory Government led by Theresa May first removed him as party whip but he was controversially reinstated in order to get him to vote on a crunch motion of confidence the government was facing.

The other MP, who remains unnamed, is a former minister to boot. He was arrested after a woman in his parliamentary office

alleged that he assaulted her, forced her to have sex and left her so traumatised that she had to go to hospital. The party is under pressure to suspend him while police decide whether to charge him and investigate. Labour Party says the decision to let him to continue to sit in the Commons is "shocking" and sends a "terrible message from Westminster".

These are latest in a series of cases that saw two senior Tory Cabinet ministers —Michael Fallon, the then Defence Secretary and Damian Green, the de facto deputy prime minister in Theresa May’s government—resign in the wake of the #MeToo campaign.

The parliamentary Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) set up to allow parliamentary staff to report allegations of bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct has received more than 1,000 calls seeking protection from sex pests in the House.

Et tu dad?

“With a dad like him, who needs enemies?” Boris Johnson might be wondering after his father publicly accused him of living in “cloud cuckoo land” for demanding unrealistic concessions from the European Union as part of a post-Brexit trade deal.

Stanley Johnson, who voted against Brexit in the controversial 2016 referendum, singled out his prime minister son’s insistence that Britain should be allowed to have its own competition rules and environmental and quality standards while retaining access to the EU single market. EU is insisting on a strict “level playing field” to avoid Britain undercutting competition by lowering its standards.

“Anybody who thinks, ‘Oh well, we have a free trade agreement with the EU but we don’t have to bother about harmonisation’ is in cloud cuckoo land. Why on earth should anybody give us a free trade agreement if we’re not going to apply the same sort of standards to our production processes as our competitors are?” said Johnson Sr.

He is not the only member of the prime minister’s family who has attacked him in public. His sister Rachel Johnson is a vocal critic of his Brexit policy; brother Jo Johnson resigned from his Cabinet last year citing an “unresolvable tension”.

A former girlfriend has poked fun at him for lecturing people to take to cycling to lose weight.

“Boris has been cycling for the 20 years I have known him and it never made any difference to his weight. I hope he’s stopped eating the sausages and chips of which he is so fond,” said Petronella Wyatt, with whom he had an extramarital affair as Editor of Spectator magazine.

Dating again

Other businesses might be taking time to pick up but dating companies have been quick to bounce back after the lockdown.

Ticket sales for speed dating events are reportedly rising steadily as romance-starved Londoners rush to make up for months of forced isolation.

“It certainly seems there’s pent-up demand,” the boss of the Original Dating company told the London Evening Standard.

But with social-distancing norms being strictly enforced, it may never be the same again.

Back to cassettes

Remember those clunky and hard-to- rewind messy cassettes which revolutionised the way we recorded and listened to music? Well, they’re making a comeback in Britain with a surge in sales as young consumers turn to them for their retro appeal. Many of the older generation are also being drawn to them for nostalgic reasons.

According to BPI, the music industry’s official body, cassette sales in the UK last year reached 80,404 last year, the highest annual figure in more than a decade.

But ironically CDs, which killed off cassettes, are going out of fashion falling victim to the boom in music streaming. Nothing lives forever.

And, lastly, for all the China-bashing going on in Britain apparently all the crockery at Chequers, Prime Minister’s official retreat, is “Made in China” even as the local pottery industry is crying for revival. Cheap trumps patriotism.

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