Alternative arrangements: MPs take up side gig forming new Westminster band

Written on 1 July 2019 in Diary

Parliament’s in-house band MP4 might have some competition on their hands after a group of Tory MPs revealed they are starting their own group – under the working name “Alternative Arrangements”.

The members consist of former trade minister Mark Garnier on bass, Jeremy Hunt’s PPS James Cartlidge on drums, and junior DWP minister Will Quince on vocals.

They have also recruited David Morris, PPS to Education Secretary Damian Hinds, to play guitar. An accomplished musician, he used to play in a band with Rick Astley and wrote songs for Stock Aiken and Waterman before becoming a politician.

The group are yet to perform in public, and do not even have a name sorted out yet, but are thinking of calling themselves “Alternative Arrangements”, after the working group set up to come with a new way of solving the Northern Irish backstop.

Mr Garnier joked it was either that or “The Malthouse Compromise”, in reference to the alternative Brexit plan put forward by housing minister Kit Malthouse earlier this year.

The band follows hot on the heels of the creation of a Parliamentary string quartet earlier this year, called The Statutory Instruments, led by Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire.

She plays the cello alongside violinists Cathy Newman of Channel 4 News and former parliamentary candidate Emily Benn, the granddaughter of Tony Benn, along with viola player and Labour councillor Katherine Chibah.

They were given permission to play in the House of Commons chamber last month by Speaker John Bercow, and performed part of Debussy’s String Quartet in G Minor ahead of their first gig, a charity concert in the Palace of Westminster on 2nd July.

They are not the first MPs to form a band however, with MP4 marking 15 years since they first started performing.

Their members consist of Tory Sir Greg Knight on drums, Labour’s Kevin Brennan on guitar, former MP Ian Cawsey on bass and vocals, and the SNP’s Pete Wishart on keyboards.

Mr Wishart, along with Mr Morris, has appeared on Top of the Pops as a performer, and played in a number of bands including Big Country, and has to declare the royalties he still receives from his time in Celtic rock group Runrig in the register of members’ interests.

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