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What political journalist, what party whip, would not want to know the makeup of the WhatsApp groups in which Theresa May's enemies are currently plotting?

If this sentence is a question, then I don't understand why the word order for the sentence is "subject + verb". The usual word order for the interrogative sentence is: (wh-word +) auxiliary + subject + verb

Is "What" in this sentence a question word?

Is this sentence a common linguistic phenomenon?

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Grammatically your sentence is definitely a question, but it does not have an inversion simply because What political journalist, what party whip is the Subject.

Who would not want to know?

If the question word is the subject of the verb, no inversion is needed.

If the question word is not the subject of the verb, you need inversion and that is where auxiliaries 'pop up' :)

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  • I have only seen cases in the subordinate clause that don't need to be inverted. eg: "I wonder who would not want to know. " So I‘m still confused about why the sentence is correct. – yllgl Dec 7 '20 at 12:54
  • "[Does there exist a] journalist or whip [who] would not want to know...?" – Kate Bunting Dec 7 '20 at 13:47
  • @yllgl: in your example "I wonder who would not want to know. ", if you turned it into a direct question you would still have no inversion. "Who would not want to know?" But if you say "What matters would he not want to know?" - 'what' is a direct object of the verb 'to know', therefore the subject 'he' requires an inversion. – fev Dec 7 '20 at 13:53

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