MANDRAKE: ‘Kippergate’ editor exposed

Conservative Party leadership candidate Boris Johnson brandishes a kipper during the final Tory leadership hustings

Conservative Party leadership candidate Boris Johnson brandishes a kipper during the final Tory leadership hustings - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Arron Banks bails out of Westmonster website; Corbyn gives Swinson the hairdryer treatment and the editor who gave Boris Johnson the kipper packed in lies is named and shamed.

Gary Jones, editor of the Daily Express

Gary Jones, editor of the Daily Express - Credit: Archant

It was a mystery that would have confounded even Agatha Christie, but Mandrake can today name the national newspaper editor who gave Boris Johnson the kipper that he so infamously brandished at the last of the Tory leadership hustings. Yes, I've smoked you out, Gary Jones, editor of the Daily Express.

"Gary thought he was doing Johnson a favour by giving him that wretched kipper as he'd just got back from a break on the Isle of Man where he'd been led to believe EU regulations had meant they always had to be sent out in expensive refrigerated packs," whispers my informant. "So up Johnson gets on the podium, works in the line about an angry Isle of Man kipper salesman, and waves above his head the kipper that he said a 'national newspaper editor' had just given to him".

This resulted in Johnson being made a laughing stock as the European Commission immediately pointed out that it was the British government that had laid down the stipulation, and, in any case, the Isle of Man is not in the EU. The Express itself chose not to acknowledge what Johnson had said was untrue - or indeed its own editor's part in the story - but inevitably it has still resulted in a deep freeze in the relationship between the paper and the PM.

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Mandrake cast the net wide in the search for the editor concerned, but all except Jones had alibis. Tony Gallagher, the editor of the Sun, was in America at the time, and Paul Dacre, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail group, was himself away fishing in Russia with his proprietor Lord Rothermere. Doubtless Brexit and Dacre's successor Geordie Greig figured in their conversations. Monstered

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Arron Banks has bailed out of yet another loss-making political venture: this time it's Westmonster, the website with the slogan "we like our Brexit clean and full."

Banks' withdrawal comes after the business racked up £85,000 in losses in 2018. His other political outfits, Leave.EU and Better for the Country, are also big losers - stuck with a deficit of nearly £10m between them.

To add to his woes, there are also losses at some of his commercial ventures - notably the Bristol-based Parsons Jewellers, with a £244,372 deficit, and E Development (2), a cash-handling company involved in underwritten premiums, which lost £54,000 in 2017. Interestingly, the authorities are not now merely taking an interest in his involvement in possible electoral law offences, but also allegations over "smuggled" gems. There are no accounts as yet, incidentally, for The Blue Wave Movement, which Banks set up to infiltrate the Conservative Party with Brexit supporters.

Cat's away

The wardens got to briefly take back control of the lunatic asylum that is Rupert Murdoch's Sunday Times over the weekend. The paper led with the government's leaked Operation Yellowhammer report and spelt out over five horrifying pages the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

I am sure it was no more than a coincidence that Tim Shipman, the paper's political editor and fervent Boris Johnson apologist, happened to have been away the preceding week, quite possibly bashing out his forthcoming hagiography of his hero.

Feuds corner

Public Enemy Number One for Jeremy Corbyn these days is plainly not Boris Johnson, but Jo Swinson. I'm told the newly-installed Lib Dem leader was the recipient of "the full hairdryer treatment" from Corbyn in a private telephone call after she had the temerity to point out he hasn't the numbers to take over as leader of a potential government of national unity.

"Jo's not exactly led a sheltered life - no one involved in Scottish politics has - but she was taken aback by the old man's cold, white fury," whispers my informant. "It was hard frankly not to see an element of misogyny in it, as I just can't imagine him talking to a man like that."

Corbyn has form in this regard. He was accused of mouthing the words "stupid woman" at Theresa May when she was prime minister and his supporters certainly hurled particularly foul abuse at the women who stood against him in the 2015 Labour leadership contest.

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