The Londoner: Chuka goes silent on Change UK

Chuka Umunna hasn’t talked to any of his old colleagues in Change UK since he quit the party to join the Liberal Democrats.

“He hasn’t spoken to any of us,” one Change UK source said, adding: “He owes us an explanation. In February he was adamant along with the rest of us that British politics was broken and that included the Lib Dems.” There was though, they said, “no ill feeling” towards the Streatham MP. “More than that it’s a great disappointment.” A spokesperson for Mr Umunna (pictured) said this morning: “He has huge respect for Change UK and wishes them well.”

Rancour between Change UK and the Lib Dems, which was intensified by Umunna’s defection, began during the European Election campaign, The Londoner understands. “Dirty tricks” angered Change UK, the source said. They pointed to how the Lib Dems “got the number-one candidate on our list in Scotland to defect to them. He was in a conference call with our candidates at about 10 o’clock the previous night. He didn’t say a word.”

The Liberal Democrats also said they “had offered us an alliance of some kind”, but, the source said, “there was never any discussion about a joint list. It wasn’t possible with the European elections.”

“When these things were happening some of us wanted to call this out, but our then interim leader Heidi Allen and our spokesperson Chuka argued that we would be damaging the Remain cause.”

Added to this was frustration after interim leader Allen encouraged tactical voting before the poll. But the source lamented there was nothing anyone could do: “Heidi couldn’t have been stopped — she was acting entirely on her own.”

As for Allen, who has returned to being an independent, there are thoughts she might join the Liberal Democrats herself. “It’s almost certain,” a source said. “I can’t see the logic of her position that she can’t stand as a candidate for us. I assume it will be orchestrated to fit in with when or if Jo Swinson becomes leader.”

Some Cold comfort

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright told the audience at last night’s UK Music summer party that Coldplay’s music “resonates” with him. But “I’m not just talking about song titles like Don’t Panic and Everything’s Not Lost. It’s sometimes the specific lyrics: ‘Revolutionaries wait for my head on a silver plate, just a puppet on a lonely string, oh, who would ever want to be king?’” Wright intoned.

“That is either really good advice to Conservative leadership contenders or,” he added, pointing to the next speaker, “it’s a really good introduction to my good friend Mr Tom Watson.”


Labour MP Chris Bryant spent his teenage years holidaying with none other than future Bond star Daniel Craig. The pair were in Valencia with the National Youth Theatre, where Bryant said “we had a very enjoyable time”. Craig was “very different then. He used to smoke and he wasn’t buff,” Bryant told The Londoner. “I was the only one who went on to politics,” he added, admitting to one major flaw: “Notwithstanding my ability to cry on cue, I was a terrible actor”.


ACTOR Michael Sheen has no time for Twitter trolls who criticise him for sharing fan fiction on the site. “If you don’t like it you are most welcome to very f**k off”.

Erin and the V&A revellers seek shelter, mousse and Ruinart

(Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Despite the deluge, the V&A’s John Madejski Garden was packed with partygoers last night for the museum’s annual summer party. Guests including Felicity Jones, Erin O’Connor, Zadie Smith, Cressida Bonas and Lady Amelia Windsor circulated and sheltered inside the gallery’s ornate halls when the rain started to fall. Handsome waiters offered Ruinart, and there was a run on the crystal bowls of chocolate mousse (The Londoner, sadly, didn’t get any). We grabbed Graham Norton by one of the three bars, who told us his dream guests are Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt, and the secret to his success is smooth-talking. “Flattery’s always a good ice-breaker.” Meanwhile, host with the most, museum director Tristram Hunt admitted the do was “stressful” to organise, though he was delighted by the pedigree of the guests. Anyone missing? “The difference between this year and last year is no Nick Clegg this year. We’ve muddled through.”


What will Theresa May, below, do when she finally stands down as Prime Minister? One minister teasingly suggested to her that she could take up a job in Europe. “She loved it,” the minister reports, “she said, ‘Hell yeah!’” Perhaps she could replace Michel Barnier as the EU’s chief negotiator? She does know a lot about the other side.


He may be out of the leadership race but Rory Stewart is still walking. “Thank you all very much indeed,” he told supporters in a Twitter video last night. He invited them to join him at the Southbank Spiegeltent at the Underbelly Festival where he launched his campaign to “keep the conversation going” and declared that “we’re uncovering something extraordinary in British politics”. Certainly.


Yesterday was “bring your family to work day” at No 10. Comms chief Robbie Gibb brought his two daughters along but Larry the Cat sunk his claws into his eldest.

Disconnected Jack’s phone-free future

Musician Jack White has “never owned” a mobile phone and finds it “funny to walk down the street” because “everyone [using one] sort of looks silly”. The White Stripes star admits that he was an “anomaly” but predicted that in the future phones could be replaced by “a microchip behind our eyeball”. White also tells Krishnan Guru-Murthy’s podcast that fans react well to his ban on phones at his gigs. “It’s shocking how much people love it... it brings up all these questions: so you need someone to tell you you can’t actually use it?”

Quote of the day

“We’re the Gallaghers. We’re not the f***ing Waltons”

Liam Gallagher has a timely reminder for critics of his unconventional family