MANDRAKE: ‘Dame’ Nicky Morgan sells out on Brexit
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Nicky Morgan tipped for an honour after switching sides in Brexit debate, Liam Fox's nice little earner and Paul Dacre is consoled by John Humphrys.
On Newsnight last week, Emily Maitlis was more than justified in asking Nicky Morgan the question "what has happened to you?"
Morgan had previously let it be known that she could never countenance serving in a Boris Johnson government, spoke of her despair at the idea of a no-deal Brexit, and felt proroguing parliament to drive it through would be "mad". Still, Mandrake hears that the newly-installed culture secretary is now referred to among her colleagues and erstwhile friends as "Dame Nicky", with a nod to the New Year's honours list. Morgan has herself proved reluctant to be drawn into a discussion about what, if any, inducements she has received, but naturally I am happy to publish whatever she cares to say.
"Trust me, you don't make a U-turn quite as dramatic and embarrassing as the one that she has without doing a deal," one Tory MP tells me. "If I don't see her name in the next honours list I will be very surprised."
Morgan floundered badly in the interview with Maitlis and didn't know what to say when she was asked: "How do we know what you believe if you say one thing in 2018, one thing in 2019 and then you get made cabinet secretary and none of it matters any more?"
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As good a judge of character as ever, David Cameron says in his mind-numbingly boring memoirs that he was proud to have promoted Morgan. "I looked at people like her and saw the modern, compassionate Conservative party I had always wanted to build," he wrote.
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Since Mandrake last saw Liam Fox - walking around looking dejected and lonesome in Leicester Square in London when it was still hot - he appears to have found some outlets for his modest talents.
He has just picked up £6,321 for flights and accommodation to talk at The Heritage Foundation, a favourite Washington-based think tank of Donald Trump, which rejects the scientific consensus on climate change and has received funding from ExxonMobil.
Fox also managed to find the time to talk, too, to the GailFosler Group in New York last month for the sum of £2,500. It says it's in the business of "reinforcing top decision makers' efforts to remain proactive in a volatile and competitive business environment by providing objective analysis, proprietary analytical frameworks, and opportunities to exchange views with peers on economic, financial, political and cultural issues". Fox's old mate Adam Werritty could well have benefited from hearing what Fox had to say. The fledgling entrepreneur has just £160 left in his private firms.
The Brextremist Lord Lilley has not had a good innings in recent days. Fellow Tory peers laughed at him when he compared the European Union to the old Soviet Union, and, at a GSPB Brexit Briefing event in the City, one audience member asked him if he was "proud of himself" for what had happened in our politics over the past three years. "Do you mean that as a compliment?" he had asked, oddly impervious to the anger in the room.
Still, he did have the good grace to say to fellow speaker Gina Miller that she'd had more impact on politics in 36 months than he had managed in 36 years.
Seldom seen now in the Daily Mail's offices in Kensington, Paul Dacre appears to have been officially "unpersoned" among the new generation of executives. In an interview with the Financial Times over the weekend, his successor Geordie Greig chose not to utter his name once. "Greig has come to ignore Dacre, not to praise him," the FT noted, acidly.
Dacre has, however, found solace in his friendship with John Humphrys who has lately been prised from his microphone on the Today programme.
I'm told the pair have put a series of rugby fixtures in their diaries - a shared passion - and Dacre loyally showed up at Humphrys' leaving party. "He exchanged a few words with John and then left swiftly,"
I am told. "Always a danger on these occasions of being button-holed by some pesky member of the metropolitan liberal elite..."