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Monday 8th October 2012 | 16:57
Sounds like the new rail minister should perhaps be now known as Simon 'Rope' Burns.
Yes, the Government's most Peter Mannion-like of ministers has struck again with a deliciously Thick of It-style incident in a bookshop.
Burns, one of the few heavy smokers left in Whitehall (amazingly, he got away with his habit when he was a health minister), has a reputation for defying the rules.
He famously refused to shake the Speaker's hand at the start of this Parliament and once muttered that John Bercow was a 'stupid, sanctimonious dwarf'.*
Today, he brushed aside convention once more when he popped up in the conference bookshop here in the Birmingham ICC, asking the shop assistant:
"Why haven't you got 50 Shades of Grey?"
He repeated the question before the assistant informed him that there were indeed a few copies for sale in the shop (next to a Paxman tome, incidentally). On being led to to them, Burns exclaimed: "Marvellous!"
He then appears to have browsed a bit. But for some mysterious reason, he backed off actually buying the S&M story that has kept millions of British women happy this year.
It was all probably yet further proof Burns is one of the few ministers left who has an devilish sense of humour and isn't afraid of deploying it.
Still, maybe he should borrow Harriet Harman's well-thumbed copy of the book. Now there's a transaction that would be worth seeing...
*FOOTNOTE: Burns, of course, featured in the PM's infamous joke about the Speaker.
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