Pro-May MP Knighted, Brexiteers Suggest ‘Utter Cock Rampant and Big Chicken’ for Heraldic Crest

TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images

Theresa May’s decision to award long-time eurosceptic John Hayes MP a surprise knighthood after he defended her leadership has gone down poorly with Brexiteers.

Knighthoods are normally awarded in the regular Honours Lists for New Year and the Queen’s birthday, but Sir John insists the out-of-the-blue gong has nothing to do with with the fact he has allegedly been lobbying fellow Tories not to write letters calling for a vote of no confidence in her leadership behind the scenes, and has not committed to voting against her Brexit deal.

Parliamentary colleagues are far from convinced, however, with many suggesting the knighthood was used to buy his silence.

Labour’s Chris Matheson, for example, scorned the honour as a “spectacular act of desperation… Theresa May [is] giving away knighthoods in a bid to win votes for her botched Brexit deal.”

Tory Brexiteers from Sir John’s own party were, if anything, even more scathing, with Mark Francois — who has been particularly forthright in his criticism of the Prime Minister — suggesting an “utter cock rampant and big chicken” for his heraldic crest.

“It is encouraging to note that, even now, after all these years in Parliament, you have not succumbed to the cynicism which sometimes affects colleagues and that, to this day, you still maintain an irreducible core of passionate political principles, which I understand you now keep jotted down on the back of an old postage stamp, as an ideological aide memoire,” wrote Mr Francois in a sarcastic letter to Sir John, seen by LBC’s Iain Dale.

“I should mention in passing, and just between us, that some colleagues are unkindly suggesting that this award is a sign, for those who understand these things, of absolute desperation by a Government which has effectively abandoned Brexit and now clearly lost the support of the [Democratic Unionist Party] and many of its own backbenchers, to the extent that it is now reduced to handing out knighthoods to malleable colleagues, in a doomed attempt to stave off an almost certain defeat on the meaningful vote prior to Christmas,” he continued.

“However, do not be alarmed John, your colleagues have known you for many years and we know you are made of sterner stuff than that! All that quoting Plato, Socrates and Cicero in the Chamber down the years was for a higher purpose after all,” he added wryly.

“As you have spent your entire career as a staunch Eurosceptic, I cannot adequately put into words, really I can’t John, how much I think of what you have done for your country – and I am sure that many of your colleagues now feel absolutely the same. Strong and Stable!”

Mark Francois Letter 1

Mark Francois Letter 2

Mark Francois Letter 2

Mark Francois Letter 3

Source: Iain Dale

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