The Tories in Bournemouth: Lamont rides the Underground in recovery position: Ex-Chancellor at heart of latest Euro-split laughs off claims he is a bitter hermit

RECENTLY, Norman Lamont was annoyed to see a woman intruder uprooting flowers from the front garden of his home in Notting Hill Gate, west London. When he remonstrated through the window, she quick-wittedly snarled back: 'I'm just pulling up your green shoots.'

This remains, however, an exceptional experience in the 16 months since the burdens of office were abruptly lifted from him. After 14 years of being driven everywhere by ministerial car, Mr Lamont - who usually travels to the City by Tube - has found members of the public curiously friendly now he is no longer directly responsible for the government's economic policy.

He even told a friend the other day that a down-and- out, brandishing a half- empty bottle, had shouted across to him: 'It's all going right now, Mr Lamont, but someone else is taking the credit.'

There are, in other words, compensations for no longer being Chancellor, much as he still entertains hopes of one day assuming office again. And they go further than having the freedom to appall his former colleagues by thinking the 'unthinkable' on Europe, as he did on Tuesday.

For one thing, he is busy making a lot more money than he ever did as a Cabinet minister, probably well in excess of pounds 100,000 a year. He is a non-executive director not only of N M Rothschild, where he has an office which he visits most days, but also of the investment fund managers Jupiter Tyndall, where is chairman of its Taiwan investment arm. He is off to Taiwan and the Philippines next week.

At the same time he can command large sums on the international business seminar circuit; in the last few weeks he has flown to Bahrain to address a conference of bankers; he was a key speaker at a London conference of 600 Italian bankers en route for the International Monetary Fund conference in Madrid; and he was an equally prominent contributor to a recent conference on privatisation in Canada. He even tried out of most of Tuesday's speech to a meeting of Yorkshire businessmen.

He sees more of his son and daughter, and while his wife, Rosemary, might prefer a slightly quieter life, she throughly agrees with his views.

According to friends, he is enjoying himself and is baffled by his depiction by opponents as an embittered hermit. He talks frequently to young Euro-sceptic MPs like Alan Duncan and Ian Duncan Smith; but he also socialises regularly with Michael Howard and Peter Lilley, and sometimes with Jonathan Aitken and Michael Portillo - though asssociates insist he did not discuss the speech with them.

Mr Lamont's big problem, of course, is how to stay in politics, given that his Kingston constituency is virtually certain to disappear under boundary reorganisation. He has consistently denied that his frequent trips to Yorkshire, where his wife's family live, have anything to do with the creation of the new and safe - insofar as any Tory seat is safe now - seat of Vale of York, and adds he has not yet focused on the issue of finding a suitable constituency. He has also let it be known that, contrary to rumour, he is not thinking of joining the Ulster Unionists.

Whether Tuesday's speech, raising the stakes so dramatically on Europe, helps or hinders him in finding his seat will say a good deal about the current state of the Tory party.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015