It is politics as bloodsport, half an hour of pure tribal aggression. The weekly clash of prime minister’s questions seems increasingly to embody the bitterly polarised nature of our parliament. But these ritual exchanges barely scratch the surface of what parliament actually does. There is another Westminster, and it’s the one where most of the work gets done; a place where mutual respect and even camaraderie still flourish, and MPs from rival parties forge unexpectedly close friendships. The reason Laura Pidcock, the new Labour MP who declared in the summer that she would never go for a beer with a Conservative, experienced such a backlash is not that she personifies some newly zealous mood sweeping parliament. It’s that she’s an exception rather than the rule, in a place where even fierce ideological opponents rarely hate each other half as much as outsiders think. Some cross-party friendships are fairly practical alliances, a means of working for a shared end. Others are byproducts of a Brexit vote that has carved parliament up along new lines, encouraging Remainers from rival parties to join forces. And for some MPs, worried by the increasingly bitter tone of public debate and by a surge of ideologically motivated… Read full this story
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