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Andy McSmith's Diary: Anna Soubry’s penetrative analysis puts Nigel Farage in a tight spot


Anna Soubry, a Tory MP, has the distinction of being Britain’s first female defence minister, but is probably better known for the things she has said to and about Nigel Farage.

She tore a strip off him on BBC’s Question Time, telling the Ukip leader: “You do not talk facts, you talk prejudice... and you scaremonger.” She also made what was perhaps a comment too far on The Andrew Marr Show when she said that Farage “looks like somebody has put their finger up his bottom and he really rather likes it”.

Interviewed by Alastair Campbell for GQ magazine, Farage went out of his way to say nice things about a range of politicians, but suddenly dropped the friendly pretence at the first mention of Anna Soubry. “Have you met her?” he exclaimed. “Impossible to get on with at any level – and so conceited and arrogant. About what, I don’t know.”

Somebody didn’t like that finger-up-the-rectum remark.

The House always wins

It is a little known fact that a life peerage does not have to be for life. A recent rule change allows them to retire, but as of last week, only three had done so. They were all immensely old: the oldest, Lord Hutchinson, was 99 on Friday. But on Monday, the Labour life peer Julian Grenfell, a former diplomat and broadcaster, finally hung up his ermine at the age of 78, after giving an erudite valedictory speech in which he quoted a Viennese dramatist, whose play about the Habsburg dynasty contained the line: “This is the curse upon our noble House, to strive half-heartedly by half measures, to bring about half of what must be done.”

The convicted expenses fiddlers, Lord Hanningfield and Lord Taylor of Warwick, are still in the Lords, claiming their £300 a day attendance allowance, because there is no means of getting rid of them.

MP Unknown No More

I confess that I knew nothing about the Tory MP Mark Menzies before he resigned at the weekend over the allegations published in the Sunday Mirror. I notice that his name appeared last November in the Blackpool Gazette, under the headline “Glorious Farewell for a Hero Unknown no More.” The “hero unknown no more” was not Mr Menzies but a war veteran. Mr Menzies was quoted explaining why he would have to miss the funeral.

Dicks by name...

A couple of months ago some teenagers played stupid pranks, ringing up members of Runnymede Council, in Surrey, and making lewd remarks. The police traced them and gave them what are called Youth Restorative Interventions, a type of measure being pioneered in Surrey, which involves the culprit having to sign a promise to behave. They got off far too lightly, according to the vice-chairman of Surrey’s police panel, who thinks they should have been prosecuted, publicly named, and given criminal records. The police have been “limp-wristed,” he told the Surrey Herald.

The man who made this charming remark is named Terry Dicks. There used to be a Tory MP of that name famous for having the smallest majority in the Commons, and the biggest mouth. Now aged 81, he once criticised the Foreign Office for trying to save a British subject from being flogged in Qatar for allegedly selling alcohol to a Muslim, on the grounds that the British public is in favour of flogging. His comments were much quoted in the Qatari press as they went ahead with administering fifty lashes, using three-foot canes. After losing his Commons seat, he became a Runnymede councilor.

Could these two gentlemen named Terry Dicks be one and the same person? I believe they could.