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Is the Tory leadership contest hotting up already?

On maneuvers

Muffled giggles in Westminster where the official photographs of ambitious Cabinet ministers have been updated in recent weeks. First, the picture of Ben Wallace on the gov.uk website was changed from one of the Defense Secretary in a suit to a photo of him in battle fatigues. Then Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’s mundane headshot was swapped with one of her posing in front of a large Union flag. Has the Tory leadership contest already started?


A bit of a Blur for Sir Keir

It is a big weekend for veterans of Tony Blair’s 1997 election landslide, 25 years ago this week. Peter Mandelson and David Miliband gave lectures at the Mile End Institute. Miliband’s was titled “Between the Obsolete and the Utopian: Understanding the 1997 ‘Project’ ”. Sounds thrilling.

And right on cue, for the anniversary of the start of “Cool Britannia” when Britpop stars were invited to drinks at No 10, Blur’s former drummer Dave Rowntree, who later became a Labor councillor, has donated £2,000 to Bridget Phillipson, the shadow education secretary. Things can only get better for Sir Keir Starmer.


not quite cricket

Is the MCC putting money before tradition? Members expressed their anger at the board this week over its decision to ax the traditional Varsity match as well as the Eton versus Harrow fixture, played at Lord’s since the early 19th century.

One member complained that major sponsor J P Morgan will still be allowed to stage a game at the Home of Cricket.

MCC chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown explained that the US bank had negotiated the right to play a match at Lord’s as part of its “branding rights” deal. Carnegie-Brown told members: “They play on the most extreme pitches … Those pitches cannot be used for high quality games.”

Do the bankers mind?


eton pride

Talking of Eton, some senior students in the elite “pop” group have started wearing waistcoats in rainbow “LGBTIQ” colours. Pop members are the only students allowed to choose the colors of their waistcoats.

Old boy and Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg is indifferent. “I have no objection to freedom of speech. I probably wore a conservative rosette during general elections when I was at school,” he tells me.


royal author recall

Veteran royal author Robert Jobson has had to recall advance copies of William at 40: The Making of a Modern Monarch which was due to be published last Thursday after discovering that “a section of text in one of the chapters in the book”… “infringed on the copyright” of a Times Newspapers Limited article. Blaming a “technical oversight”, Jobson and his publisher Ad Lib have “therefore agreed that the book should not be sold in its current form and that the book should be revised to remove this section of text”.

A revised publication date will be announced for a few weeks’ time, in time for Prince William’s 40th birthday on June 21. I am sure it will be worth the wait.


Persona non grata

Sadness for war author Sir Max Hastings, who tells me that he has broken off contact with anyone who holds a flame for Boris Johnson. “We don’t knowingly entertain supporters of the Prime Minister, and to our sadness don’t see some old friends who still think he is wonderful,” he says, mournfully.

Reports of him losing 60 per cent of his friends are wide of the mark, however. “Probably 15 per cent,” he tells me. “We never knew many people foolish enough to suppose Johnson fit to be Prime Minister.”


Mystery of Queen’s ‘dressing gown’

Seven portraits of the Queen are currently on display at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters’ Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries, each one painted by one of the society’s members.

June Mendoza painted the Queen when she wore a short coat dress made of Thai silk for the Institute of Chartered Surveyors. However, an attempt at lengthening the dress on the portrait did not work out, leaving the Queen and Mendoza agreeing that Her Majesty looked like she was wearing a dressing gown. So Mendoza designed a new dress and (with the Queen’s approval) went back to the institute one weekend and repainted her portrait. “I don’t think anybody noticed,” she tells me.


Peterborough, published every Friday at 7pm, is edited by Christopher Hope, the Telegraph’s chief political correspondent and the author of the daily Chopper’s Politics newsletter. You can reach him at peterborough@telegraph.co.uk

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