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
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
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
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
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: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all