Fans of Dominic Raab, the former Brexit secretary and a Tory leadership contender, have come up with a novel way of propelling him forward in a crowded field of hopefuls. Raab is, they say, “the male Margaret Thatcher”, the man with the steely front to weather the party through the next stage of Brexit negotiations.
“Like Thatcher, he is ‘unyielding’,” one former Cabinet minister tell us, adding that he has the “legal mind” that is necessary in these legislatively complex times, an appetite for getting up at dawn and “the discipline of an athlete” (he has a karate black belt and is a regular at his local boxing club).
Of course, the words “Margaret Thatcher” are strange music to the ears of Conservative Party members. They could not be applied to that other Tory frontrunner, Boris Johnson.
“His belief [that he should be PM] relies mostly on his record as being twice voted in as London Mayor,” says another source, “despite the fact that most of those Londoners are Remainers who would never vote for him again.”
Indeed, one Cabinet minister suggests he would be vulnerable to a strongly concerted effort to unseat him in his constituency of Uxbridge were he leader in the next general election.
At least two former Cabinet ministers are enjoying the spectacle of “egos being polished”, joking that they may even start taking bets. In Westminster, the popular view yesterday was that the leadership final could see a battle of the younger generation: Raab versus Health Secretary Matt Hancock “but the frontrunner seems to change every week”.
Critics might highlight Raab’s past comments about women.
In 2011 he said: “From the cradle to the grave, men are getting a raw deal,” and hit out at “obnoxious bigotry” by feminists. “It’s only bigoted feminists he doesn’t like,” says his fan.
“But Thatcher was also intolerant of bigoted feminists”.
Blue-on-blue Brexit attacks are being taken to another level these days. Steve Barclay MP has sent a demolishing 10-page letter in reply to one that ERGer John Redwood sent to Geoffrey Cox MP, the Attorney General, on the true terribleness of the withdrawal agreement. Barclay writes that he is “particularly grateful for [Redwood] allowing me a further opportunity to explain the withdrawal agreement because your email exhibits many fundamental misconceptions about its meaning, which might well inadvertently mislead its readers”. Cox applauded Barclay for correcting Redwood’s “many potentially misleading errors”.
James “four-ovens” Brokenshire tells The Londoner that despite the number of cooking appliances in his kitchen, he’s not actually a big cook, though he enjoys “baking with the kids from time to time”. Nadine Dorries ups the ante. “I have SEVEN ovens,” she says, “four in the Aga, a double oven and one combined in the microwave.”
Veteran comedian Barry Humphries, whose alter-ego Dame Edna Everage was inspired by his mother, describes how he makes famous interviewers, including Sir Michael Parkinson, recoil when he appears on their shows: he smears Vaseline on his hands before greeting them.
Rosé all round at a summer bash just made for Chelsea
As the sun shone over London yesterday, Lottie Moss and friends toasted the new season at the Ivy Chelsea’s Summer Garden Party.
Actors Olivia Grant and Kelly Eastwood, Rosanna Falconer and a host of ex-Made in Chelsea stars were among the guests enjoying an evening rosé.
Also welcoming the start of summer were presenter Lisa Snowdon and Chloe Delevingne, who were at the launch of Amanda Harrington’s sunless tan brand. Strictly presenter Claudia Winkleman, a committed member of the fake-tan club, joined the festivities.
“I’ve got very bad eyesight, but as long as I have an orange face, black eyes, white mouth, then we’re all right,” she has said of her beauty routine.
Further afield, Cannes kicked off last night with a screening of Jim Jarmusch’s new comedy, The Dead Don’t Die. Chloë Sevigny and Tilda Swinton represented the cast on the red carpet.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd reflects on the perks of being Home Secretary. “People often ask, do I miss my bodyguards?” she told an audience at Onward, the One Nation think tank. “I do. A year or so ago I was surrounded by a big group of male bodyguards responsible for securing my safety. Now I am surrounded by a big group of male leadership candidates responsible for securing my endorsement.”
Brexit minister James Cleverly asks for styling advice in case of a leadership bid photoshoot: “Which combination of room and family member should I go for?” His colleagues supplied ideas: “Brace of pheasants [and a] gundog,” suggests hunt-lover Nicholas Soames. Tim Loughton’s thought is more unusual: “S&M dungeon with dominatrix aunt?”
Former No 10 press aide Craig Woodhouse is returning to Westminster as the Department for Business’s comms director.
How to eat... a couple of decades later
More than 20 years after the publication of her seminal cookbook How to Eat, Nigella Lawson still has some rules to impart.
“I would never make the mistake of going out to eat in something tight-fitting,” she tells the Brisbane Times. “If I don’t finish [the food], I’ll wake up in the middle of the night thinking ‘Oh my God, I left some.’”
She adds: “Nothing is off limits at my table. Politics is allowed. The only thing I don’t tolerate is phones. I think one of the best things around a dinner table is conversation.”
Quote of the Day
‘I just think it is natural’
Nicola Sturgeon reveals she sometimes suffers from “imposter syndrome” but doesn’t have much time for it