It’s a brave MP who would venture unaccompanied today into Members’ Lobby (at the entrance to the Commons chamber itself). This is where journalists hang around waiting to speak to compliant MPs of all parties, hoping to pick up a bit of gossip here or there, perhaps even a lead for a story.
Today is one of those days when they’re hunting in packs all day long. They constantly scan the horizon in search of their prey, pouncing in unison when one gets within reach. If the prey in question also happens to be a Labour member who has previously been identified as a potential rebel on the issue of 42 days, they can hardly prevent themselves from drooling. They surround the unfortunate individual, notebooks at the ready, much in the same manner as a cartoon hyena would hold a knife and fork in anticipation of the kill.
When I walked into the lobby a few minutes ago, two broadcast hacks jerked their heads to look in my direction. Almost immediately I saw barely concealed disappointment on their faces, and they turned away again. Either they instantly recognised me as a member of the government and therefore not likely to rebel. Or, more likely, they didn’t recognise me at all and thought I worked for the House of Commons Post Office.