HIGH-PROFILE Conservatives are known to be “on manoeuvres”, and the most explicit sign of preparation for a leadership bid — as every good campaigner knows — is the scraping together of a solid war chest. As The Sun newspaper observed today, Michael Gove has amassed a hefty £31,000 in donations since the election, and Amber Rudd has bagged £23,500. This makes the £10,000 of ambitious Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson look a bit like pocket money.
But there’s a two-man-sized hole in this. Where are arch Brexiteers Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, left.
Neither has received a penny in donations since the election, which is surprising given both are known to have an eye on the top job. Are the Etonians being left behind? Can it really be the case that they haven’t raised a thing?
It’s true that they’ve declared no donations to the Parliamentary register of financial interests, but that doesn’t mean their coffers are bare. Both, in fact, outstrip their rivals in terms of surplus funds earned. Johnson has raked in £32,859.69 since the election in royalties on his books.
But Rees-Mogg out-fundraises them all. In the same period he’s registered an income of at least £138,829.14, which stems both from his firm Somerset Capital Management, as well as journalism for The Telegraph and Daily Mail. Of course, this figure doesn’t include properties in Somerset and London that earn him rents of over £10,000 a year.
This is the joy of extra-curricular earnings: Rees-Mogg and Johnson saunter into first and second place respectively, with barely a backward glance at their leadership rivals. They may say their personal income is for private needs, but in the heat of an election battle, and with the glittering prize of Tory leadership in sight, why hold back?
Ed Miliband puts TV career on ice
IS THERE life after bacon sandwiches? Ed Miliband has rejected multiple offers since resigning as Labour leader. For example: “Walkers crisps advert with Gary Lineker,” he told Alastair Campbell in an interview. Why? “Too early. I didn’t think I could be promoting crisps. I like Gary Lineker, he’s a great guy. But no. Also some form of celebrity driving programme. And Dancing on Ice.” Blimey. Future in the House of Lords? “No, no,” says Miliband, adding: “But I don’t want to be down on people who go to the Lords.”
Buckingham Palace seeks a butler: “You’ll take care of guests from welcome to goodbye. And learn how to deliver functions,” the ad reads. Few can forget The Mirror’s undercover reporter who secured the job then took photos of the Queen’s Tupperware and the teddies on Prince Edward’s bed.
CLARA McGregor, daughter of Trainspotting’s Ewan, slams those shaming her for stripping in Playboy. “I chose to pose for Playboy because it was with a talented photographer and team”, she says. “Life is all about experiences. I found the concept youthful, fun and creative and not particularly explicit.”
McGowan speaks out as fashion and #MeToo mingle in Fitzrovia
WHAT’S the collective noun for a group of models? A flutter? Whatever it is, they were out in force in Fitzrovia last night for the launch of House of Osman, a five-storey townhouse turned into the new store from fashion designer Osman Yousefzada.
Eliza Cummings, Sam Rollinson and Charlotte Wiggins were among those at the opening, as well as actress Rose McGowan. She was one of the first to speak out against Harvey Weinstein and played a considerable role in the rise of #MeToo, which she has discussed on British TV this week. While McGowan alleges sexual assault, Weinstein denies it. He also denies that someone from his team contacted her recently. “It was like a bullet once again,” she said.
A passport to fame
Lionel Shriver, American author of We Need To Talk About Kevin, credits the Evening Standard with saving her husband from deportation. Jeff Williams, a jazz drummer, couldn’t convince a Home Office official that he really lived in the UK — until Shriver pulled out a copy of the Standard that featured a celebrity profile of the pair. “It was the Standard what did it,” she writes in The Spectator. She conjures the official’s response: “Imagine the hackneyed sitcom scene in which a prim librarian unties her hair and transforms into a sexpot. Jeff got his leave to remain.”
FRASER Nelson and Andrew Neil, pictured at the Spectator Life Magazine party last night, have been at Neil’s house in the south of France. “It involved a lot of late nights drinking whisky,” a bleary-eyed Nelson told me.
JEREMY Corbyn thundered at PMQs: “The current Home Secretary inherited a failing policy and made it worse. Is it not time she resigned?” Amber Rudd, above, pointed at herself with a “Who me?” gesture, then to her right at the former Home Secretary: Theresa May, another possible candidate for resignation.
Yesterday’s leaked civil service memo showed the Government proposes to extend the sugar tax to junk food. Theresa May has blown hot and cold on this. In 2016 her adviser Fiona Hill drew a red line through the policy ordering her team to “call The Sun and tell them the Conservatives have saved Tony the Tiger”.
Anti-obesity campaigners, though, were frustrated that the Government didn’t curtail cartoon characters in TV adverts as part of its anti-sugar drive. Hill came to Number 10 fresh from working as a lobbyist for Lexington Communications, which represents Mars UK.
Quote of the day
Actress Rachel Weisz keeps it concise when asked how kissing a woman in her new film compared with her husband