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Business Comment

Simon English: Ashcroft's sparkling idea could be a total washout

Outlook Lord Ashcroft of Belize, sometime deputy chairman of the Tory party, ex-rock band manager, entirely legal tax avoider and staunch hater of the Coalition Government (hey, everyone's got something), has an idea.

He intends to become one of the largest producers of English sparkling wine, buying 150 acres of vineyards in West Sussex.

If you didn't know there were any makers of English sparkling wine that's understandable, but they say our climate is less hostile to grapes than it used to be.

You can speculate that this is due to global warming, just not on any of the good Lord's Conservative-supporting websites.

There's no reason at all not to wish him all the luck in the world. If cheap UK fizz were available and drinkable we'd buy it. Weddings being less expensive would be another great act of philanthropy.

So it is with regret we report that rival Nyetimber, one of the most successful West Sussex winemakers, chose yesterday to announce it will not be harvesting this year's crop because the grapes have been so useless after the dreadful summer weather.