MANDRAKE: Tory election strategist Lynton Crosby backs another loser
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Ousted Tory election guru racks up losses with new business, Dominic Grieve says a new boss is needed for the Conservative Group for Europe and Kate Middleton's jeweller hopes for a sparkling Brexit.
Once known as "the Wizard of Oz,", Sir Lynton Crosby's magical powers deserted him when he oversaw Theresa May's 2017 election campaign. And last year he had the humiliation of seeing his youthful protégé Isaac Levido help to secure a majority for Boris Johnson.
Crosby wasn't going to give up without a fight, and, together with Barack Obama's election strategist Jim Messina, he set up a business called Outra, which specialises in "unlocking the predictive power of big data with AI and automation" for businesses.
The business appeared incapable, however, of foreseeing its own big losses. The latest accounts for the company show it has lost £6.88 million in two years - £4.78 million in 2017 and £2.1 million in 2018. They have resulted in net liabilities for Outra of £6.55 million, run up on sales at £290,000.
The directors still felt able to sign off the business as a "going concern" thanks to a mysterious unidentified "shareholder", who has "undertaken to provide continuing support to allow it to meet its liabilities as they fall due". Always careful with his own cash, Crosby - who was paid £4 million by the Tories for the 2017 campaign - is unlikely to end up out of pocket himself. He's not listed on business records as having any "significant" control over the business.
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Although the job is something of a poisoned chalice these days, the Conservative Group for Europe will soon be looking for someone to succeed Dominic Grieve as its chairman.
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Grieve sadly failed in his bid to retain his Beaconsfield seat when he ran as an independent in the last election and now thinks that the group - with a distinguished history dating back almost 50 years - needs a serving Tory MP at its helm.
"Its role in relation to securing the closest possible links to Europe is now more important than ever to the business community," Grieve tells me. "I'd better not name them, but we still have seven MPs and 20 peers as members and we've been delighted with the number of people who turn out for our meetings."
Inevitably in these McCarthyite times, the group was disaffiliated from the Conservatives after the EU referendum, and, at their last party conference, it was not allowed to advertise in the official programme or hold their meeting within the security perimeter.
Interestingly, Grieve says that a recent survey of CGE's several hundred members showed an overwhelming majority still favoured a second referendum. Grieve has faith that the group will come back into fashion before too long, but sadly he believes his own days in politics are now over.
Although Jeff Bezos, Steve Bannon and the Saudi Sultan Muhammad Abuljadayel all apparently toyed with the idea of buying the Daily and Sunday Telegraph and then thought better of it and the newspapers remain very much on the market.
Their octogenarian owners Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay aren't helping matters by frightening away any reasonable readers with their post-truth editorial policy. "Remainers were forced to run a dirty campaign before and after the referendum precisely because the case for the EU is so weak," the Sunday Telegraph said in its leader column over the weekend. "Leavers, on the other hand, put forward a coherent argument..."
Prince William's wife Kate and other wealthy clients of the jeweller Kiki McDonough have been assured that Brexit isn't going to be allowed to take the sparkle out of their lives.
"We wanted to let you know that even though the UK is leaving the EU on January 31, we will not be changing," the firm has just emailed key clients. "We always have, and will continue to, ship our jewellery globally, and it brings us such joy to know that we have valued customers across the world."
Still, the email goes on to say: "With that being said, as we are unsure as to how customs will be handling the UK's departure, please do be aware that European delivery may take a little longer than normal. We will strive to help where possible. Our team are available for any queries you may have."