EPHRAIM HARDCASTLE: Jacob Rees-Mogg is coy over Michael Gove
Asked if he agrees with a No 10 source’s unflattering description of fellow Tory MP Michael Gove as a snake, Jacob Rees-Mogg purrs: ‘I like Michael, I always have done. He’s most engaging company… but he thoroughly enjoys political intrigue and always has done.’
We may take that as a Yes.
Why might the Prince of Wales prefer Penny Mordaunt (both pictured) as the new PM? My source whispers: ‘Named after a frigate and a member of the Royal Naval Reserve, she has met Charles and they got on well. Her father was in the Parachute Regiment of which Charles is Colonel-in-Chief. She was once a magician’s assistant while Charles emulated Ali Bongo, (the late William Oliver Wallace, ex-president of The Magic Circle). They’re both fond of Romania and painting.’ No doubt Camilla will be watching carefully.
Hawking the paperback version of his debut thriller The Whistleblower, set in the 1990s, ITV’s political editor Robert Peston announces on the airwaves: ‘I’m writing a follow-up which will be set at the time of the financial crisis in 2008.’ The only TV reporter I can think of who has triumphed in writing successful thrillers – without plugging them while a TV reporter – is Gerald Seymour, 80, who has written 35 since leaving ITN in 1975.
Mocking Grant Shapps’s leadership campaign, snobbish ex-Tory MP Sir Nicholas Soames – a Churchill grandson – says Transport Secretary Shapps ‘has more front than Brighton Beach and the patter of a used car salesman’. Worse barbs have been hurled at Sir Nicholas. ‘Making love with him is like having a wardrobe fall on you with the key sticking out,’ one lady friend is alleged to have sighed.
Highlighting rows he had at last week’s Spectator summer party with Tories angry about Boris Johnson’s downfall, the magazine’s chairman, Andrew Neil, told critics: ‘If just one of you had stood up to his denials, obfuscations and downright lies he might still be there.’ Perhaps he should be accompanied by his highly-strung, Grasse-based guard dog Scrubber when next he encounters disputatious Tories.
Labour’s shadow home office minister Jess Phillips, commenting on the frontrunner in the Tory leadership race, says: ‘Rishi Sunak is one of the most overrated politicians of our time. He is a dreadful performer who propped up Johnson until it wasn’t good for Rishi. He cannot do anything off script. I’d welcome him as an opponent.’ Which suggests she fancies succeeding her own leader, Sir Keir Starmer.
Lady Gaga (Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta) is the bookies’ favourite to play the late singer Amy Winehouse in a biopic. Her ladyship is mainstream now but when she burst on the music scene The New Yorker had a cartoon in which little aliens from Mars who’d landed in a flying saucer were being questioned by cops, with one of the visitors saying: ‘Take us to Lady Gaga.’