“THE ship of state is the only ship that often leaks at the top,” observed President Kennedy. Last night’s scoop by BuzzFeed, which showed that every Brexit scenario would result in the UK’s growth dipping, might have proved him right. Cabinet ministers saw the documents but, as Politico’s Jack Blanchard notes in his London Playbook, “The briefing was meant to be so secret… with no paper copies to leave the room.”
Can one therefore conclude the leaker was inside David Davis’s own Department for Exiting the EU? We can assume that Davis, below, didn’t do it himself and his SpAds, Brexiteer former MP Stewart Jackson and the loyal Tim Smith and Raoul Ruparel should be similarly discounted. Within DExEU the permanent secretary, the respected Philip Rycroft, must hope it didn’t come from his team of civil servants.
Morale at DExEU is said to be quite high, with its young staff enjoying working on the major policy issues facing the country. However, there has been a lot of churn, with 125 staff leaving over the past 18 months. Apparently, working for a department which by definition will shut up shop in a couple of years isn’t considered the best career move.
Whoever is the deep throat they are following in a long tradition of high-level leakers, from Sir Robert Vansittart, who leaked details of Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement plans to Winston Churchill, to Christopher Galley, a junior civil servant in the Home Office, who leaked information to Damian Green, who was then able to score points against Labour.
When Green’s office was subsequently raided by police in 2008, Tory backbencher David Davis said it was “reminiscent of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe” (this was also the raid when police say they found pornography on Green’s computer). Now Davis is head of DExEU we wonder if he will be so restrained himself about finding the leaker.
RUBY Wax was at the Tabernacle in Notting Hill for a Q&A about her new book, How to Be Human. Endorsing the benefits of meditating to help you sleep, Wax rubbished claims that less sleep makes you more productive. “Sleep deprivation is the cause of mental illness. People used to say that Margaret Thatcher slept two hours a night. Well, duh, look how that turned out.”
Gove’s joke at the Chancellor’s expense
TO THE Conrad Hotel in St James’s Park for a Tory Reform Group bash. Environment Secretary and firm Brexiteer Michael Gove was the star guest. Philip Hammond backed out.
“Sadly he can’t be here this evening,” Gove told the crowd. “Now for some of you I have to apologise for his absence and for my presence. For those of you wondering what the difference is between myself and the Chancellor, let me assure you that in every area we remain highly aligned.”
The audience did not laugh. “And while he reserves the right to diverge from my position, he hasn’t yet found it necessary to contemplate moving a scintilla away from where I stand.”
At this point Gove got a decent laugh. Just watch that Hammond foot shuffle at the next joint photocall.
Quote of the day
“When the time comes, I think it will be a woman. There is literally no excuse.” Baroness Chakrabarti says the Labour Party needs a woman’s touch
All Betties are on at Southwark Playhouse
SOUTHWARK Playhouse hosted a press night of Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties, a comedy by Jen Silverman. It follows five women, all named Betty, living in New York, and has a touch of theatrical dynasty to it: Emma Hall, daughter of the late Sir Peter and half-sister of actress Rebecca, is one of the producers. The five Betties in question are played by Sara Stewart, Lucy McCormick, Beatriz Romilly, Johnnie Fiori and Genesis Lynea and well-wishers included actresses Niamh Cusack, Janie Dee and Kate Fleetwood. The Collective Rage had, luckily, subsided in time for the after-party.
WHILE the hubby’s away, Victoria Beckham will play. David is in the US, setting up his new Miami football team, but his fashion designer wife is embracing a different American tradition. She was spotted on Sunday putting on her bowling shoes at Queens, the subterranean alley in Bayswater. She took Romeo and Cruz, her two youngest sons, and was, apparently, quite good. Not Sporty Spice good, but almost there.
Just dessert for the lovebi”rds
MISHA Nonoo, widely believed to be the woman responsible for setting up Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, just can’t keep away from royal couples. The fashion designer is based in New York but flew into London yesterday, joining the newly engaged Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, pictured, for dinner on the terrace at The Arts Club in Mayfair. A special dessert was served, with a message: “Congratulations Poochys!” A royal nickname?
The suggestion that Nonoo played Cupid was galvanised when Markle wore a shirt from Nonoo’s self-titled fashion brand at her first public appearance with Harry.
Will Misha pop in to Kensington Palace to see her greatest matchmaking success, or turn her sights to finding love for someone new? Only two weeks until Valentine’s Day…
Tweet of the day
Blackrock’s Rupert Harrison on those Brexit economic forecasts
NEW barnet of the day: classicist Mary Beard tells The Guardian that she is planning to get a bright pink streak in her hair. You’re never too old to be a rebel.
Stanley’s out with his favourite Toff
IS THIS the start of a beautiful friendship? Stanley Johnson and Sunday Times Style columnist Georgia “Toff” Toffolo, who met in the jungle for I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here, reunited for lunch yesterday in Chelsea. “I have always said I have a thing for older politicians,” Toff said after winning the programme. “And I can confirm that is still standing!”
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