Lord Sugar and I both love a good scrap, but it was time to end our feud
Wednesday, November 17
It’s been 20 months since I severed all contact with Lord Sugar after he launched a vicious public onslaught against me because I was aggressively challenging Government Ministers over their woeful handling of the coronavirus crisis.
He branded me a ‘shameful, irresponsible, exploitative, hypocritical martyr and disgrace’ who was only doing it to promote myself, and said I was ‘like Donald Trump’ in ‘shouting down and abusing anyone whose opinion he doesn’t like’.
Obviously, I took this critique well, responding: ‘If a selfish, stupid, privileged billionaire wants to spew constant repulsive abuse at someone for holding the Government to account for decisions that will decide whether people live or die, that’s a matter for him and his conscience.’
As time’s gone on, and pandemic-related passions have cooled, I (Piers Morgan) began to rather miss the old goat (Lord Sugar, above with Piers)
Then, raging with indignant fury, I blocked him on social media, stopped responding to his private messages (my last entreaty was simply: ‘Go f*** yourself’) and refused to talk about him on air or in the media.
For a while, it felt good to have despatched him from my orbit.
I’d convinced myself that I was 100 per cent right about the bust-up, and he was 100 per cent wrong, so therefore it was worth severing our lengthy 25-year friendship.
But as time’s gone on, and pandemic-related passions have cooled, I began to rather miss the old goat.
I’ve missed the trips with my Spurs-supporting father into the Tottenham board room, as Sugar’s guests, when they play Arsenal in the North London derby, the forays on to Sugar’s gin-palace yacht in St Tropez with my kids, who’d spend hours playing on his jet-skis and laughing at his often (though not always) very funny stories, and the long drunken lunches at the town’s famous Club 55 restaurant, where we’d vociferously berate each other in front of our eye-rolling wives and the likes of Dame Joan Collins over lashings of rosé and Montecristo cigars.
I’ve missed our comically antagonistic TV and print interviews, and our once-jocular Twitter ‘banter’ that entertained – and doubtless often appalled – the nation for years before things turned unpleasant.
I’ve even missed Sugar as a human being.
Beneath his gnarly, blunt and often breathtakingly rude exterior, he’s got a good heart – he once sent my dad an incredibly kind letter after he had a stroke – a lovely family, and he can be generous and amusing company.
In many ways, we’re more similar than either of us would ever care to admit – both highly opinionated, egotistical, attention-loving gobby blowhards who love a good scrap and never back down in a fight.
And I realised there was something rather two-faced about me cutting him off in the way I did because I was behaving exactly like the anti-democratic illiberal woke brigade who refuse to countenance any alternative opinions and ‘cancel’ anyone who disagrees with them.
But how to resolve such a well-publicised spat without losing face?
Today, I went to Wales for a much-postponed speaking gig at Celtic Manor hotel, where I was grilled by Gyles Brandreth in front of 450 opticians.
(My opening line of ‘I hope I don’t make a spectacle of myself’ was met with a cacophony of entirely deserved groans.)
The lucrative engagement had been offered to me before the pandemic blew up by Lord Sugar’s spokesman and PR consultant Andrew Bloch, because Sugar was originally lined up to do it but then couldn’t do the date.
And as Andrew and I sat having a coffee together, before I was due on stage, the elephant in the room inevitably reared its gigantic trunk.
‘It’s a great shame you guys fell out,’ he said. ‘It was HIS fault,’ I replied. ‘He crossed a line with that Twitter c*** – it was relentless.’
Andrew, playing the diplomatic role of Kofi Annan to commendably skilful effect, didn’t attempt to disagree, or defend his boss.
Instead, he said: ‘I just think it’s a pity such a good friendship has been ruined over a few angry tweets when emotions were running very high and perhaps a little irrationally… on both sides?’
‘Perhaps,’ I conceded.
‘Would you consider patching things up if he contacted you again and acknowledged he’d gone too far?’
‘Possibly. But he’ll never do that.’
Saturday, November 20
I woke to an email from Lord Sugar.
‘Hi Piers, you had your opinion which I strongly disagreed with. It was difficult times, and the public were scared. Pot kettle when it comes to me being relentless, with your constant battering of the Government. But what’s done is done and it’s not worth falling out over long-term, considering how far we go back.
‘So, if it helps, I’ll admit I was a bit strong, so let’s drop hands. Also, the cruising season will be upon us soon and we need to get p***ed at Club 55 again.’
I felt as stunned as Maverick in Top Gun when sworn rival Iceman puts aside their differences to pass on sympathy about the death of Goose.
‘I’ll be honest,’ I replied, ‘I thought you went OTT with the abuse, which got way too personal, obsessive and nasty. I was only doing my job of holding the Govt to fierce account for the appalling way they handled the pandemic which cost many thousands of lives.
‘But I’ve almost missed you, and I’ve definitely missed Lady Ann, so let’s put it behind us and bury the hatchet. Just let me know which part of your skull you’d like me to bury it in.’
In this ever more toxic world in which everyone seems to be falling out with everyone about everything, I’m glad we’ve resolved things.
As this pandemic has surely taught us, life really is too short and fragile for petty feuds, especially with family or old friends.