Mick Lynch and Piers Morgan: ‘The dream double act Britain never knew it needed’

Piers Morgan and Mick Lynch on Newsnight
Piers Morgan and Mick Lynch had an unexpected connection on Newsnight

“We bonded over Bounty bars,” said Piers Morgan of his unlikely detente with Mick Lynch, the firebrand union leader, on Newsnight yesterday. Who would have guessed a coconut-filled confection would bring some desperately needed sanity and respect to our political discourse? Morgan and Lynch were like two sweet treats nestled side by side on the Newsnight sofa, sometimes disagreeing, but more often in unexpected concert, as they picked over the flaccid corpse of the first Sunak v Starmer televised debate.

Unlike the sour, depressing tone of the spectacle on ITV between the Prime Minister and the man who wants to succeed him, Morgan and Lynch exhibited a warmth and openness that bordered on cosy. It was a mature discussion between two men who know their own minds, but also a refreshingly open and honest point of difference in an ecosystem often described as febrile and plain dumb.

“I just told Mick we may be the dream double act Britain never knew it needed,” Morgan tweeted afterwards. In normal circumstances, you could imagine the general secretary of the RMT union rushing to the decontamination shower after a suggestion like that from Morgan, who traditionally delights in vilifying the Left. But Lynch may now be weighing up the benefits of a podcast with his new sofa buddy as co-host. He turned out to be the perfect foil for Morgan - as sharp and sagacious as his highfalutin partner. It was as if these two big beasts recognised each other’s command of the subject at hand – better to talk it through than go on the attack and risk a pyrrhic victory.

This was a discussion about communication and messaging, not policy. On this, they were united. They both agreed Sir Keir Starmer had been ponderous, evasive even, and failed to deal with Rishi Sunak’s “£2000 tax rise” attack effectively. When Morgan praised Sunak for pushing the “you do not have a plan” line, Lynch nodded, even though his concern comes from a different political perspective that wishes Starmer was more radical on tax and spend. “This is a side effect of not having a bold economic policy,” he said. “He needs to come to the country with a bolder message.”

Morgan caressed Lynch’s arm several times, which the union boss took in his stride. The broadcaster even refrained from his congenital need to interrupt, holding back on several occasions to allow the RMT leader to make his point in full. “Mick’s absolutely right,” said Morgan. “Where’s the big vision?” This time it was Lynch’s turn to nod in approval. They both looked a little surprised.

What his many detractors don’t realise about Morgan is that he is, for the most part, very courteous. He is also resolutely undogmatic, which means he could engage with Lynch fully, providing both men with enough time and space to make their points in a way seldom seen on television. It shouldn’t be that surprising that you get more sense from two political animals than the two politicians who preceded them.

Every time they disagreed on an issue of substance - particularly what Labour should or could do in office - they listened to each other intently. It was a timely reminder of the smart, healthy debate between two usually confrontational figures that has become as rare as the Sumatran rhino in the past decade. Newsnight presenter Victoria Derbyshire had the easiest night’s work of her life.

Morgan and Lynch also displayed a poise that many MPs would sell their soul for. British political discourse can feel so witless precisely because so few of its dominant figures have the command of detail, confidence in their beliefs and the ability to articulate them. In short, current politicians do not possess what Morgan and Lynch have got.

Fittingly, the duo ended on common ground, with their joint condemnation of the assault on Nigel Farage in Clacton. Lynch – no friend of the Refom leader as he made clear in the most strident terms during the show – said, “win the argument, not through these tactics.” Morgan nodded for the umpteenth time. Even if they never meet again, they’ll always have Newsnight.