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The benefits of Tom Tugendhat’s expedience

The latest scandals and gossip from Westminster and Fleet Street

Minister of State for Security Tom Tugendhat speaks at a fringe meeting at the annual Conservative Party. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

After that emotional appeal for Britain to do right by his former comrades-in-arms in Afghanistan, in the Commons debate that followed the withdrawal of our allied forces, Tom Tugendhat is now security minister at the Home Office, where his boss, Suella Braverman, often seems more concerned with keeping those fleeing persecution out of the country than letting them in.

Expedience has, however, proved not unremunerative for the Remainer-turned-Leaver who holds dual British and French citizenship. Mandrake can reveal that Tugendhat has a stake in two firms awarded £17.8m worth of government contracts. The former leadership candidate, appointed minister of state for security by Liz Truss, holds shares in the healthcare firm Accurx and a private company data source business called Beauhurst – awarded £17m and £815,000 in contracts, respectively.

Accurx was most recently awarded a £576,458 contract in March to provide an electronic communications platform for GP practices for Humber & North Yorkshire NHS, and has also landed two Covid contracts worth as much as £9.4m with NHS England. The business is also participating in a £120m contract awarded to 32 suppliers in 2021 for “technology-enabled care products and services”.

Beauhurst has, meanwhile, supplied its services to the Cabinet Office, Department for International Trade, Department for Education and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, among others. Tugendhat has no management role at the companies, but his interests amount to 38,412 and 467 shares for Accurx and Beauhurst respectively. The shares are reported in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests – his stake in Accurx dating back to 2017, and his interest in Beauhurst since before 2015.

Yet his involvement in these companies is not disclosed in the long-overdue but recently updated list of ministers’ interests. In his latest update in April 2023, Tugendhat simply reports that he is in the “process of setting up a blind trust/management arrangement”.

In addition to these interests, he remains a director of Lashkar & Co, which he set up in 2013, to offer “strategic advice and leadership mentoring, US real estate”.

Tugendhat’s ambivalence on Brexit and other issues exasperated his former Tory colleague Anna Soubry, who would recall him discreetly coming up to her in the Commons chamber and complaining of how bad things were getting. “Well, what the fuck are you going to do about it, Tom?” she’d demand, but not much was ever done.

Michael Gove and Sarah Vine would not appear on the face of it to have much in common with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Still, the couple might yet emulate the starry acting duo in one respect at least – by reuniting and possibly even remarrying.

Mandrake hears there have been further sightings of the pair breaking bread together at various restaurants in the capital. With the Tories expected to lose the next election, at least one barrier to a more formal reconciliation is about to be removed. Vine said the reason she and Gove separated was “not because we hate each other… it’s because I can’t look after my family and myself and be a wife of politics”.

Gove has said he will stand at the next election in what was once the true blue Surrey Heath constituency, but the Lib Dems convincingly took the council in the local elections, and it may well be that he is about to have a lot more time to spend with his former wife and two children.

Meanwhile, Vine’s colleague Richard Littlejohn, who receives a salary not unadjacent to £1m a year for being the shoutiest of the Daily Mail’s shouty men, excelled himself over the weekend with a piece that declared, “Nothing less than a coup is taking place in Britain.”

His contention that “the ultra-woke civil service and renegade Tories still loyal to the EU are working to destroy an elected government” would, of course, have been front-page news if Littlejohn could only have named a single one of these dastardly plotters. That, however, he failed to do – possibly because he largely operates out of a luxury residence in Florida and is therefore some way from the action, but most probably because they do not exist.

Ed Davey could do worse than rattle the collection plate in the face of his fellow knight and former boss Nick Clegg if he wants to bolster party finances ahead of the next election. Mandrake hears that the former deputy prime minister is £2.1m richer after cashing in 11,000 share options in the social media firm Meta, formerly known as Facebook.

The options, allotted and sold last week, were part of a £12m stock package awarded to Clegg earlier this year. The terms require him to continue working for Meta for three years for all share options to vest.

Last year Clegg trousered £1.6m after selling another batch of Meta shares. According to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, he retains 76,398 options – potentially worth £14.9m, as well as £2m in shares. And while his shares and share options are visible, his basic take-home pay packet from Meta as its president for global affairs has yet to be disclosed.

Ahead of the last election, Clegg made a £10,000 donation to the Scottish Lib Dems – the most substantial sum he had ever made to the party outside his old local constituency in Sheffield – which now seems, all things considered, decidedly parsimonious.

On February 1, 2020, Daniel Hannan – now a Lord – told the world, just as the pandemic was about to show its awesome might, “the coronavirus isn’t going to kill you. Seriously, it isn’t.”

More than 226,622 deaths later – in the UK alone – Hannan remains unapologetic. In what must have seemed to those who lost loved ones a grotesquely insensitive column he wrote over the weekend, he attempted to portray himself as the Cassandra of the virus. This has of course taken some quite extraordinary contortions.

“A handful of columnists – and it really was a handful, you could count us on your fingers – had argued from the beginning that the restrictions were excessive,” Hannan informed Telegraph readers. “We were almost universally howled down as murderers who wanted to cull the population. But, as the weeks passed, we could point with increasing confidence to Sweden.”

Sweden? Hannan, shifting the argument to the issue of the lockdowns, put forward the thesis “that stolid, sensible nation,” had “saved lives” with its “controlled spread of the virus”.

Of his old mate Boris Johnson’s lockdown policies – at least for everyone other than himself – Hannan felt they “did not, as the bullying phrase of the time had it, ‘put lives before the economy.’ They destroyed both.”

Apparently then remembering it was Johnson who fixed it for him to have his peerage, Hannan added that he “didn’t blame ministers for having been pushed into over-reacting.

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