Wilkes's diary

Wilkes must admit to extreme jealousy on perusing Page Three of the Sun the other day to find the "gorgeous" Caroline Christensen, 29, linked with Phillip Oppenheim, the "high-flying trade minister". Imagine Wilkes's delight, then, the other night when, upon wandering into the Strangers' Bar of the House of Commons, he spied eight Christensen lookalikes - long-legged, blond "lovelies" as the tabloids quaintly dub them. Mr Oppenheim was in one corner, in deep conversation with male friends, while the eight models, all there at his invitation, were sadly ignored.

That was until Hywel Williams, the dashing special adviser to John Redwood, arrived. Hywel, a close friend of Phillip's, a former housemaster at Rugby School andpossessor of a history doctorate, got on with them like a house on fire. "Hywel seemed to have a magnetic effect on the most stunningly beautiful of the bunch," moaned a luckless Labour MP. "He must have some secret. I wish I knew what it was."

A warning for the Conservative leadership: Europe, the issue on which the party almost broke its back, is about to force itself to the surface again. As John Major prepares for the Madrid summit later this month, the Tory right is making plans for the longer-term battle over the single currency.

John Redwood, the challenger for the leadership in the summer, is planning to publish a pamphlet through the think-tank Conservative 2000, underlining his fundamental opposition to a single currency. Iain Duncan Smith, the MP for Chingford and a Redwood supporter, is beavering away on a pamphlet opposing European federalism, thus exploding the issue all over again.

The one policy that they see as a unifying factor is for the party to commit itself at the general election not to join a single currency within the lifetime of the next Parliament. Given a five-year term of office, that would take Britain up to the year 2002, which most ministers believe is the earliest date by which there is likely to be any realistic prospect of creating a single currency.

Some cabinet ministers, though firmly in the pro-European camp, see the attractions of that formula for the election manifesto. They include Stephen Dorrell, a leading One-Nation Tory and the Secretary of State for Health. In fact, Westminster gossips say that Major may be persuaded by Dorrell - in spite of the opposition of Ken Clarke, our beloved Chancellor.

Wilkes got the Budget leak that mattered: weeks ago he tipped readers off that the Chancellor would abolish the road fund licence on cars more than 25 years old - much to the delight of Clarke's parliamentary private secretary, Peter Butler, who has two greatly loved Austin 7s.

Less congenial to Clarke, perhaps, is that another of the first beneficiaries is John Redwood, who has a 1965 E-type Jaguar.

It must have been a bit like blowing kisses to the mirror, but President Clinton was apparently glowing with tributes in his hour-long chat with Tony Blair, in which young Blair told his mentor all about the Clintonisation of the Labour Party. Bill was said to be so taken with Tony's new Labour that he wished he could borrow from some of the Labour leader's excellent speeches.

However, Bill cannot start his new Democratic campaign for the White House by promising to be "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime". Since the American senator Joe Biden was caught out stealing Neil Kinnock's best lines, it has been impossible to get away with that sort of thing in the US, as the minute anyone says anything interesting the press start rifling through the collected speeches of Labour's finest.

Jolly well done to Gyles Brandreth, that enthusiastic Tory MP who heard this week that he has been appointed to the Whips' Office. As he is instructed in the art of "putting a bit of stick about" he will have to concentrate hard on the main task of the most junior whip - pouring the champagne for his esteemed Whips' Office colleagues.

Andrew Mackay's big day as a government whip came yesterday when he got togged up in morning coat and, armed with his wand of office, delivered his first official message from the Queen to the Speaker of the Commons. Red faces all round when, through a slip of the lip, the Speaker invited Andrew Mackinlay, the Labour MP, to step forward.

Luckily, MacKinlay - who last week demanded an apology from Nicholas Soames for saying that the Princess of Wales was suffering from paranoia - was not in his place.

Tory MPs have discovered that their colleague Nigel Evans, MP for Ribble Valley, has been attracting fan mail since appearing on the box. Clearly jealous of "gorgeous" Nigel's success, some MPs have taken to writing to him anonymously, praising his good looks and asking for a signed photograph.

Which explains why Harold Elletson, MP for Blackpool North, has Nigel's framed portrait like a trophy on the wall of his Millbank office.

There was muttering among Wilkes's Labour chums this week when they heard that Rupert Murdoch's empire had bought up the television rights to the Endsleigh League, ensuring that all live football matches from divisions one, two and three will now be seen on BSkyB.

Labour MPs have realised that this is not particularly good news for their constituents who do not possess a satellite dish. They want Labour to attack it, but feel that the Aussie love-in between Blair and Rupe may make this difficult. "The trouble is, we're not sure what the leader's line is on Murdoch," confided one Labour MP.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living