Father Christmas has been spotted wandering the corridors of power in Parliament.
Laughter briefly filled the Commons chamber during the emergency debate on the delay to the Brexit vote as Santa fleetingly appeared behind the Speaker’s chair.
Tory Vicky Ford (Chelmsford) broke off from her speech, saying: “Hello Father Christmas, actually this is not a time to laugh, Mr Speaker, Father Christmas was behind you there.”
Speaker John Bercow intervened saying: “(I understand) the merriment, but I want to hear the honourable lady, Vicky Ford.”
Raising a point of order, the SNP’s Angus MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) joked: “It’s an order for Father Christmas to save Brexit?”
The comment left MPs giggling in the chamber.
Officials working in the Commons chamber said Tory former minister Sir Mike Penning was in the costume.
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran (Oxford West and Abingdon) joked she thought she was “hallucinating” after seeing Santa pop briefly into the Commons chamber, adding on Twitter: “As if this week could get any weirder.”
Labour whips posted online a photo of the red suited figure in one of the corridors of the Commons, accompanied by the caption: “Santa.”
Wes Streeting, Labour MP for Ilford North, also wrote on Twitter: “Father Christmas has turned up in the Commons Tea Room and bellowed that ‘you’ve all been very naughty’. Is this the PM’s latest attempt to press MPs to back her deal?”
Sir Mike later confirmed he was in the Santa suit.
He told the Press Association: “It was the kids’ Christmas party for staff in Parliament – 175 kids turned up.
“It was great fun and it’s the season of goodwill so there was a good bit of banter around the House and I stuck my head into the chamber.”