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.

Sport
sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
News
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
news
News
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
News
The illusionist believes hypnotism helped him to deal with the lack of control he felt growing up
people'It’s not that people react badly to it – they really don't care'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
peopleJack Monroe accuses David Cameron of 'misty-eyed rhetoric'
News
Tana Ramsay gave evidence in a legal action in which her husband, Gordon, is accusing her father, Christopher Hutcheson, of using a ghost writer machine to “forge” his signature
peopleTana Ramsay said alleged discovery was 'extremely distressing'
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Windsor and Aljaz Skorjanec rehearse their same-sex dance together on Strictly Come Dancing
TV
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Life and Style
fashion'To start singing with Pharrell is not that bad, no?'
News
news
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

Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

Argyll Scott International: Risk Assurance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible