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“Here we… here we… here we f***ing go!!!” — Jeremy Corbyn
The year got off to a bang with a series of expletive-ridden tweets from Jeremy Corbyn. A spokesperson for the Labour leader later claimed that his account had been hacked, but we’d prefer to believe that it was actually a botched experiment with his personal brand. Other tweets sent out from his account included “f*** trident,” “straya c***” and our personal favourite “davey cameron is a pie,” which in retrospect is hard to argue against. All in all, Corbyn really set the tone for the year to come.
“Anything with a Bollywood theme, I lap it up” — Zac Goldsmith
If you’re a right-wing politician then 2016 has almost certainly been a good year. Right across the western world the right have been resurgent with social democratic parties in heavy retreat. One of the few exceptions to this trend is Zac Goldsmith who this year lost not just one election, but two. One of the highlights of his first defeat, in the race for London mayor, was a particularly awkward interview on the red carpet of the Asian Awards. “I’m a Bollywood fan, so anything with a Bollywood theme I lap it up,” he said. However, when asked for examples of his favourite Bollywood films he dried up: “Let me think. No I wouldn’t be able to. I’m not going to give you one. I can’t think of a favourite.” If the red carpet could have swallowed him up it would have done.
“A pansexual for London” — Zac Goldsmith
Goldsmith was similarly out of his depth in an interview with Pink News. Asked whether he would be a mayor for all Londoners, he replied, inexplicably: “I would use the term pansexual here, if my understanding is correct. I would be the mayor for all of London.” For some reason London’s voters opted out of a pansexual experience with the former MP for Richmond.
“My dad was a bus driver” — Sadiq Khan
The London mayoral election was ultimately won convincingly by Labour’s Sadiq Khan. Khan’s campaign made much of his lowly council estate background. He was also particularly keen on referring to his dad’s job choice.
“We have got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain” — David Cameron
Cameron’s year was inescablaly awful all round. Caught on camera in May speaking to the Queen, Cameron explained that he had been at Cabinet talking about the upcoming anti-corruption summit.
“We have got the Nigerians — actually we have got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries
coming to Britain,” he boasted.
Cameron went on: “Nigeria and Afghanistan — possibly two of the most corrupt countries in the world.”
Her Majesty, ever the diplomat, did not respond.
“We’re going to win – maybe by 70-30” — David Cameron
Cameron’s decision to call the EU referendum will go down as one of the biggest miscalculations in political history. Not only did the former PM wrongly believe that the referendum would be easily won by the Remain side, he also privately told other EU leaders the same. As a result, the EU had no incentive to offer Cameron a more favourable renegotiation deal. Had they done so, the EU referendum could well have gone the other way.
“The trouble is, I am not an outer” — Boris Johnson
The former London mayor’s conversion to the Leave campaign is one of the most disputed political events this year. Johnson claims he was always an instinctive Eurosceptic. However a number of Tory MPs say that Johnson told them he was “not an outer” at the start of the year. It’s not just his colleagues in Parliament who were surprised by Johnson’s U-turn. His former colleagues at City Hall also report that they were shocked when he came out for Leave. “He was never a leaver,” one former City Hall staffer told Business Insider. “The whole thing was purely about positioning himself for the leadership.”
“It is absurd that you are told that you cannot sell bananas in bunches of more than two or three” — Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson on the stump during the EU referendum campaign. There are no EU laws against selling bananas in bunches of more than two or three.
“The very first person I come to is a horrible racist. I’m never coming back to wherever this is” — Pat Glass
The EU referendum campaign was a gruelling experience for British politicians this year, not least for shadow Europe minister Pat Glass, who recounted her time campaigning for Remain on the streets of Derbyshire.
“I think the people of this country have had enough of experts” — Michael Gove
The former justice secretary had a torrid year after successfully fronting the Leave campaign, before bringing down the careers of not one, but two, of his government colleagues. However, it was his comments during the campaign, that British people have “had enough of experts,” which he will be most remembered for.
“Brits don’t quit” — David Cameron
Cameron used his last appeal to voters in the EU referendum to proclaim that “Brits don’t quit.” Brits disagreed apparently, as did Cameron himself, who quickly stood down both as prime minister and Tory leader after the result came in. Two months later he quit as MP for Witney.
“Doo doo dee doo” — David Cameron
The former prime minister hums himself a little tune after announcing his departure from Downing Street.
“That’s the difference between our two parties. Labour’s still fumbling with its flies while the Tories are enjoying a post-coital cigarette after withdrawing our massive Johnson” — Ruth Davidson
Scottish Conservative leader jokes about the departure of the former mayor of London from the race to be Tory leader.
“We won without a single bullet being fired” — Nigel Farage
There were few more controversial figures in British politics this year than Nigel Farage. Shortly after winning the EU referendum, the former UKIP leader told a crowd that it had been won “without a single bullet being fired.” This was just one week after the murder of the Remain-campaigning MP Jo Cox.
“Seumas I’m not sure this is a great idea” — Jeremy Corbyn
Before the full impact of the EU referendum result had even sunk in, the Labour party embarked on a period of self-destruction, culminating in the resignation of dozens of MPs from Corbyn’s front bench and a long and deeply damaging leadership contest. As the challenge against the Labour leader began, his press chief Seumas Milne invited the cameras in for a show of unity among what was left of the shadow cabinet. One microphone picked up a worried Corbyn, sat next to Tom Watson, urging Milne to ask the cameras to leave. When the cameras returned, Watson had been removed – Soviet-style – from Corbyn’s side.
“If he carries on like this he will destroy both the Labour party and the country” — Labour MP
One former shadow cabinet member speaks to journalists after leaving a meeting between Labour MPs and Jeremy Corbyn.
“Bring out the traitors” — Corbyn supporters
As Corbyn faced growing insurrection from his own MPs, many of his more passionate supporters gathered outside in Parliament Square to shore up their leader.
“The only good thing about it is that, as plotters, they’re f***ing useless” — John McDonnell
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell gives his verdict on Labour MP’s failed attempts to oust Corbyn.
“BBC anyone? No. OK, Robert Peston, where are you? Michael Crick?” — Angela Eagle
One such failed attempt was launched by Labour MP Angela Eagle, whose own bid to become Labour leader crashed to the ground shortly after take off. Journalists quickly abandoned her launch event after Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom announced that she was pulling out of the race to be the next Conservative prime minister.
“It pained me that we didn’t have the strength and the power and the vitality to smash her back on her heels” — Owen Smith
In the end, it fell to former shadow Welsh secretary Owen Smith to take on Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership. From the off, the bid was less than successful, with Smith exhibiting a tendency to make a series of questionable remarks about women. His comment that he would like to “smash [Theresa May] back on her heels” caused particular controversy.
“No I don’t regret it. I just think it was a bit of political banter” — Owen Smith
Smith also came under scrutiny for previous comments about wanting to shut Nicola Sturgeon up with a gobstopper. Asked by your humble correspondent whether he regretted the comments, Smith replied that it was just “political banter.” These controversies combined with an ill-advised joke about the size of his manhood, all helped to dampen what little enthusiasm there was for his leadership bid among Labour members.
“Today this train is completely ram-packed” — Jeremy Corbyn
Corbyn’s own leadership campaign wasn’t entirely trouble-free. One viral video of him sitting on the floor of a busy Virgin train, caused him major troubles after the train company released CCTV images suggesting the Labour leader had walked past empty seats before sitting on the floor.
“Can I finish please? Thank you” — Jeremy Corbyn
One of the main reasons Corbyn won his second leadership campaign was the widespread view among Labour members that he simply hadn’t been given a long enough chance to succeed. Ultimately, most members decided that he should be allowed to finish what he had started.
“If they want to get rid of him the best thing would be to wait and let Jeremy fail on his own time” — Gavin Sibthorpe
Perhaps the most prescient quote of 2016 came from a little-known Corbyn staffer called Gavin Sibthorpe. Sibthorpe told a Vice News documentary back in May, that Corbyn’s critics would be best off leaving him to fail on his own terms before seeking to oust him. This idea, known in Labour circles as “the Sibthorpe Doctrine” is now the consensus view among Labour MPs critical of Corbyn.
“Corbyn doesn’t appeal to the mainstream working class vote. It’s to do with a cultural thing about London.” — Paul Mason
One of the most remarkable transformations this year has been that of former BBC and Channel Four economics correspondent Paul Mason into a Corbyn-supporting activist. Mason has transformed himself into one of the Labour leader’s most vocal supporters. However, an illicit recording of Mason by the Sun revealed that even he privately has big doubts about Corbyn’s electability. His private suggestion that the leadership should pass to fellow left-wing Labour MP Clive Lewis, is one that is now gaining ground among the left of the party.
“Brexit means Brexit” — Theresa May
No list of political quotes from 2016 would be complete without Theresa May’s notorious, and tautologous statement that “Brexit means Brexit.”
“Brexit means Breakfast” — Various
Welsh Conservative leader Andrew Davies greatly amused his party conference in September after accidentally mistaking Brexit for breakfast. It was a mistake subsequently made by many others.
“There will be no cakes on the table, for anyone. There will be only salt and vinegar.” — Donald Tusk.
The EU council president responds to claims that Britain would like to “have our cake and eat it” with regards to Brexit.
“Actually what we should be looking for is a red, white and blue Brexit” — Theresa May
The prime minister reveals her latest Brexit catchphrase whilst on a trip to Bahrain.
“Handbags at dawn, girl on girl, it was embarrassing” — Mike Hookem
Despite winning the EU referendum, UKIP has had a particularly torrid year. The low point came when UKIP MEP Steven Woolfe was hospitalised after an alleged punch-up with his party colleague Mike Hookem. Hookem denied punching Woolfe, describing the incident as “handbags at dawn.” Hookem’s nominative determinism didn’t end there, as he was later appointed the party’s fishing industry spokesperson.
“Dogs barking deters drones” — Liz Truss
One of the most bizarre moments of 2016 came when justice secretary Liz Truss told Parliament that barking dogs are being used to deter drones from passing contraband into prisons. As one Labour MP shouted out in the chamber: “it’s the minister who is barking.”
“I gave the answer I gave,” — Theresa May
As we head into 2017, we still know little about the Brexit deal that May’s government would like to secure from the EU. Earlier this week MPs spent well over an hour trying to pin the prime minister down on her plans, to little effect. Over the course of the session May deployed a series of sphinx-like statements including “negotiations are negotiations,” “you will see what we publish when we publish it” and “I gave the answer I gave.”
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