MANDRAKE: The money keeps rolling in for Jacob Rees-Mogg
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Our diary reveals how Brexit is proving good for Jacob Rees-Mogg's businesses, the bill for Theresa May's charm offensive ahead of the vote on her deal... and why Fiona Bruce is the lady for David Cameron.
Brexit is proving good for business for Jacob Rees-Mogg. Saliston – a holding company that is part of the Tory MP's extensive investment portfolio – has just declared a £1.2 million annual profit in its latest accounts, eight times up on the £130,000 in the previous year.
It owns 15% of the asset management business Somerset Capital Partners, where Rees-Mogg works and draws a salary of as much as £21,000 a month on top of the £77,379 a year pocket money he receives as an MP. Last year's profit takes the net worth of his firm – which has significant property interests – to £7.7 million.
The accounts show that buildings acquired by Saliston for £4.6 million are now worth £7.3 million as at the date of the accounts. That's not bad going given Rees-Mogg, only set up Saliston in 1995.
On top of his pay from Somerset, he draws income from the Telegraph and LBC. Total pay disclosures in the latest Register of Members' Financial Interests: £195,000.
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Incidentally, I ran a poll on Twitter over the weekend asking people which MP – out of David Lammy and Rees-Mogg – most embodied British values. No fewer than 18,211 votes were cast. Lammy polled 85% and Rees-Mogg 15%.
If there is any one individual at the Daily Telegraph whose departure its remaining readers could never countenance, it assuredly isn't Boris Johnson. The paper's cartoonist Matt – the pen name of Matt Pritchett – holds that honour, in addition to the MBE he was awarded in 2002.
As self-deprecating as Matt is, there's no question he's his own man. He has never felt the need to ingratiate himself to the editors and proprietors he's counted in and counted out at the paper over more than 30 years. This accounts for him being increasingly out of sync with his own paper's fanatical Brextremism.
Saturday's cartoon was a case in point. It depicted an MP in Westminster with his hands in the air saying: 'It's just project fear. There's nothing wrong with Andy Murray's hip. He'll definitely win Wimbledon.'
I reported last year how Christopher Booker – not considered such a big star in the Telegraph firmament – was relegated to an obscure supplement when he went rogue on the issue that is so close to hearts of the paper's owners, Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay. Middle management had first tried to get Booker to switch from writing a political column to one about the countryside.
Theresa May is one of the least gregarious residents of No.10 in recent times, but, ahead of the vote on her deal, she set new records for wining and dining her MPs.
Figures just out show that the Cabinet Office has blown the budget for spending on hospitality – overshooting an expected quarterly limit of £53,000 – by more than £70,000, for November alone as the PM made a determined last-ditch attempt at making friends and influencing people.
The money was paid to service sector giant Interserve and is coyly recorded on official records as 'government property catering – cost to be recharged to tenants'.
Figures for December and January are expected to show still more gallons of wine pointlessly glugged. James Gray, a Tory Brextremist who clearly has absolutely no sense of gratitude to taxpayers, was unimpressed. He sneered at the 'nasty red and warm white wine' served in No.10 and said no amount of hospitality was ever going to make him change his mind.
Mark Dexter told me he was philosophical about being heard and not seen as David Cameron in James Graham's television drama Brexit: The Uncivil War, but the actor may yet be coming back into vision.
I sounded out Graham about writing a drama focusing on Cameron's tragi-comic life since quitting as PM and the idea seemed to appeal. 'Whenever he shows his face, he seems to end up being chased down a street by a camera crew asking him if he has any regrets,' the great dramatist mused. 'There is certainly dramatic potential there...'
Incidentally, after pitching last week for Michael Cockerell to bag the first big television interview Cameron gives when his memoirs are out in the autumn, I've now changed my mind. It has to be Fiona Bruce, who grills him. Her debut chairing Question Time was nothing short of magnificent.
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