MANDRAKE: Nigel Farage's new money-spinner
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TIM WALKER on Nigel Farage's latest business venture, Michael Gove's backer, and a royal scam that caught out several veteran palace watchers.
Nigel Farage's decision to quit as leader of the Reform UK party – he said he was "done" with frontline politics – may be motivated by a desire to spend more time with his new television business.
Mandrake can disclose that he set up an outfit called Farage Media in December, based in offices in Essex, with his press aide Daniel Jukes and fellow former MEP David Bull. In documents filed at Companies House, he says it will be engaged in "video production activities".
Farage, pictured, will run it alongside his long-standing company Thorn in the Side, which is turning into quite a money-spinner. Its accounts are just in and show a £177,000 increase in its accumulated earnings, which total £731,482 for the year ending March 31 2020. Farage set the business up in 2011 and its net worth has risen almost eight times since 2017 when it had just £93,927 in the bank.
His pay from it was last reported at €30,000 per month in his MEP’s declaration of financial interests, though accounts for the firm itself have only ever reported a £7,500 payment to him, made in 2013 as a dividend payment. No turnover has ever been reported. The lack of information makes it impossible to determine his full earnings from the company.
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Sir Alan Duncan once joked that he was Boris Johnson's "pooper scooper" during his period as foreign secretary, when he had the unenviable task of cleaning up the various messes his boss left behind.
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Next month, Duncan looks as if he will land Johnson himself in it when he publishes In The Thick Of It, based on diaries that he secretly wrote between the lead up to the EU referendum in 2016 to July 2019, when he stepped down as a minister.
"They were written as much for therapy in the moment and as a lasting insurance against the brain-fog of age," says Duncan, who retired as a Tory MP at the last election. "I hope they are as much a source of entertainment as an accurate record of this crucial period of our recent history."
I gather the book has "withering putdowns not just of Johnson, but also fellow Tory MPs and ministerial colleagues. There are irreverent anecdotes, too, about ambassadors and foreign dignitaries.
Michael Gove has described Lord Harris of Peckham – the former Carpetright boss – as his "hero."
And well he might for Harris, who has a fortune estimated at almost £300 million, has been Gove's single biggest donor in recent years. He contributed £10,000 in March last year, a further £15,000 in July, and last month, just declared in the register of members' interests, another £10,000.
Harris spotted David Cameron's potential and put his money where his mouth was and his latest donation to Gove makes me think he sees him as Boris Johnson's successor.
For his part, Gove has unctuously said he'd like to see a statue of Harris erected so that he can be remembered for his "acts of overlooked heroism".
Three years ago, the Daily Express informed its readers that the royal family would be playing "a vital role in helping Brexit Britain sign new trade deals and maintain good relations with other countries." Their source was Victoria Arbiter, whom the newspaper described as "a leading Royal author and commentator", which may well explain why her prophecy has still to be fulfilled.
Victoria – along with her father Dickie, the former Buckingham Palace press officer; Ingrid Seward, the editor of Majesty magazine; and the author and PR man Richard Fitzwilliams – were last week all caught out in a sting operation organised by the YouTubers Josh Pieters and Archie Manners. They'd posed as film makers who wanted them to give their opinions about the interview Prince Harry and Meghan Markle gave to Oprah Winfrey before it was screened. All agreed and made prize chumps of themselves.
The interview was screened by ITV on Tuesday. Edward Bonham Carter, who sits on the board of the company, is virtually a member of the royal family himself. His sister is Helena Bonham Carter, who has played Princess Margaret in The Crown and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in The King's Speech.
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