Amber Rudd experiences a hostile environment at press gallery lunch
The home secretary told lobby hacks she was just thinking of 'staying in the game'.
Shares in Amber Rudd took a plunge on Wednesday after she faced the wrath of MPs on the home affairs select committee.
On Thursday the masochism strategy continued as the home secretary bravely turned up for a press gallery lunch where she was bombarded with questions by the lobby’s finest.
The lunch started off with the customary introduction from press gallery chairman Kate McCann, who was sure to mention’s the home secretary’s role as aristocracy coordinator on Four Weddings and a Funeral. The Telegraph journalist jibed that Rudd had gone into that job demanding that "everyone provides at least four pieces of evidence" for their right to work on the film.
Getting up to speak, the home secretary then thanked her special adviser Mo Hussein for arranging the gig. "This is exactly what I wanted to do this week,” she joked.
But the home secretary opted against being too funny. “She is wisely breaking with custom and not cracking any jokes, making it the least funny of these speeches since Chris Grayling,” observed one hack.
Rudd then faced a barrage of questions about the Windrush fisaco. Had she offered to resign? Had she apologised to the prime minister? Had she met many of the victims? Had she put much cash side for them yet? Did she regret the ‘hostile environment’ phrase? Did she realise that she was being used as a human shield by Theresa May?
Straying onto Brexit, Rudd went off message when asked if the UK would stay in the customs union. The home secretary answered: “I won’t be drawn on that – we still have some cabinet discussions to have.” She then issued a clarification on Twitter.
However the home secretary’s main message seemed to be that she was happy to still be in her job - and determined to keep it that way.
Did she still have her eye on the leadership, The Sun’s Tom Newton Dunn wanted to know. What if the ball came loose at the back of the scrum?
Rudd replied: “I’m not thinking about any balls coming out… I’m just thinking of staying in the game.”
Later on, The Times’ Matt Chorley asked the home secretary whether she would behaving differently on Brexit if she was a backbencher.
She snapped back: “You’re anticipating my demise a bit early.”