Social media erupted in memes as the House of Commons was embroiled in utter chaos last night with reports of MPs ‘shouting’, ‘bullying’ and ‘manhandling’ each other.
When reports emerged of MPs making out with each other in Parliament’s corridors, delighted onlookers were unable to turn away, with some saying it was better than hit HBO show House of the Dragon and others comparing with some of the country’s favorite soap operas.
The unseemly scenes in Westminster unfolded amid a vote on fracking late on Wednesday night, for which the government was believed to have imposed a strict three-line whip – meaning MPs who opposed it could be kicked out of the Tory party .
As the vote took place, there were reports of some MPs in tears, others being frog-marched by Cabinet ministers to vote, and Prime Minister Liz Truss chasing her own chief whip and telling her not to resign.
Earlier in the day, Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, resigned unexpectedly, apparently after a 90-minute screaming match that could be heard echoing through the halls of Number 10.
While so much was taking place, people on social media were quick to poke fun, with Twitter users comparing it to a drunken brawl, satirical comedy shows and even Chernobyl.
Twitter users were quick to poke fun, including comparing the mayhem to fight scenes from Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘Two Tribes’ (third top) and Kingsman: The Secret Service (fourth top)
Comparing what’s going on in Westminster to the political machinations of a hit HBO show, @SheStudiesSLT wrote: ‘Who needs the House of the Dragon when you’ve got the House of Commons?’
Others saw the behavior of the MPs as similar to Armando Iannucci’s political satire The Thick of It.
@Kit_Yates_Maths wrote: ‘When did they renew “The Thick of It”? The House of Commons set looks very realistic.’
Meanwhile, @imccrossan1 thought it looked more like a scene from EastEnders or Coronation Street, saying: ‘Nobody needs the “soaps” tonight. The House of Commons provides the entertainment… which would be funny if it weren’t so harmful!’
But @RSRHIGHLANDER2 had another idea, writing: ‘It’s about time someone did the right thing and put a sarcophagus over the House of Commons like they did with Chernobyl…’
After hearing reports that some representatives were being ‘manhandled’ by senior colleagues to vote the way the government wanted them to, many posted screenshots of the scuffle.
@CantreBaeLod posted a photo of Colin Firth during a church fight in Kingsman: The Secret Service, while @Eyeswideopen69 used a photo from the music video for Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘Two Tribes’.
@RJKDuggan posted a photo which famously shows drunken party scenes on a night out in Manchester and @MrAdamR shared a video showing chaotic events including a woman running around on fire on a Swedish TV show.
While social media was having fun last night, Liz Truss endured another incredibly testing day in Westminster as she continues to fight to keep her job as Prime Minister.
After just six weeks in the job, her power ran out further when Suella Braverman quit at 5pm last night, apparently after a 90-minute screaming match that was apparently heard echoing through the office door and into No 10.
And about two hours later it all kicked off in the Commons for a fracking vote that Downing Street had billed as a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister.
Labor MP Chris Bryant said some Conservatives were “physically manhandled into another lobby and bullied” and revealed he had “absolutely desperate” Tory MPs “crying on my shoulder”.
Chief Whip Wendy Morton and her deputy Craig Whittaker appeared to stand down after Truss reversed his plan to expel Tory MPs who voted against the government on fracking.
At 1.30am this morning, Downing Street insisted it was only a vote of confidence for a minister to go on TV at 7.30 to say it wasn’t when party discipline imploded.
Liz Truss arrives at the Houses of Parliament last night where Tory discipline broke down and she was booed by her own MPs
Chris Bryant speaks to the Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons and demands an investigation into what is going on in the lobby
Labor MP Chris Bryant shared this photo on Twitter, which he says shows Jacob Rees-Mogg and Therese Coffey walking Tory MP Alex Stafford through the lobby to vote against Labour’s fracking proposal. There were allegations that MPs were bullied and manipulated
Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan also repeatedly – including four times on the Today program – refused to say whether Liz Truss would lead the Tories into the next election.
Amid chaotic scenes in the Commons, Deputy Prime Minister Therese Coffey and Business Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg were accused of “manhandling” MPs through the voting lobbies – a claim both ministers denied.
As government discipline broke down, Mr Whittaker was heard telling his colleagues: ‘I’m bloody furious and I’m not giving a ***.’
Tory MPs were seen shouting at an ashen Miss Truss: ‘It’s a mess.’
The Prime Minister was apparently seen running after her chief whip and begging her not to quit as she was barracked by her own henchmen. Jacob Rees-Mogg later revealed he had no idea if the party still had a chief whip.
And today there is still confusion over whether Ms Morton and Mr Whittaker are in the post. Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the chief whip did not resign after last night’s Commons vote as far as she knows.
Asked if Wendy Morton quit on Wednesday night, she said: ‘Not that I’m aware of, no.’
And Ms Trevelyan would only say she believes “at the moment” it is “still the case” that Liz Truss will fight the next election as Prime Minister, while some claim her new chancellor Jeremy Hunt and Ms Braverman’s replaces Grant Shapps now has responsibility for. Others say Rishi Sunak should have the job.
Tory MP Gary Streeter said the party must drop Liz Truss – the 8th backbencher to call for her resignation. ‘Unfortunately, it looks like we’re going to have a change of leader, BUT even if the angel Gabriel is now taking over, the Parliamentary Party needs to urgently rediscover discipline, mutual respect and teamwork if we are to (i) govern Britain well and (ii) avoid slaughter at next election,’ he said on Twitter, adding the hashtag #lastchance.
The chaotic evening at Westminster that left Liz Truss on edge
16.55: Interior Minister Suella Braverman resigns.
The popular figure among the Tory right told Ms Truss she had committed a ‘technical breach’ of the rules by sending an official document from a personal email and now took responsibility.
‘I have made a mistake; I accept responsibility; I resign,’ she wrote in a barely-coded dig at the Prime Minister, whose disastrous mini-budget sparked financial turmoil.
In her resignation letter, she added an attack on Truss, declaring: ‘The business of government depends on people taking responsibility for their mistakes.
‘Pretending we haven’t made mistakes, carrying on as if everyone can’t see we’ve made them, and hoping things will magically fix themselves is not serious politics.
19.43: Chaos breaks out in the Commons voting lobby.
Deputy Prime Minister Therese Coffey and Business Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg faced claims they were present when Conservative backbencher Alex Stafford was ‘physically dragged’ into a voting lobby.
There were also claims of shouting and finger-pointing which left some Tory MPs in tears during turbulent scenes in the Commons after they were ordered to support fracking against their wishes. In another dramatic twist, Conservative chief whip Wendy Morton was said to have resigned on the spot after she was undermined by a last-minute change to the terms of the vote by Downing Street, which appeared to mean it was no longer a confidence vote in the government .
Meanwhile, her deputy Craig Whittaker was seen storming out of the lobby and declaring: ‘I’m furious and I don’t give a **** anymore.’
20.10: Sir Charles Walker, MP for Broxbourne, told BBC News: ‘I really shouldn’t be saying this, but I hope all the people who put Liz Truss in number 10, I hope it was worth it.
‘I hope it was worth it for the ministerial red box.
‘I hope it was worth sitting around the cabinet table because the damage they have done to our party is extraordinary.’
21:00: Labour’s motion to secure Commons time to consider legislation to ban fracking was defeated by 230 votes to 326, majority 96.
01.30: Downing St says fracking vote was a vote of confidence – and those who opposed the government will be punished
7.30: Asked if it was a vote of confidence, Transport Secretary Anne Marie Trevelyan says to Sky: ‘No.’ She said ‘most’ rebels will have ‘very strong constituency reasons’ to crack the whip.