Leading article: Cherie goes in to bat for a true blue brewer

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN'S brewers are having a fight with Europe in the courts. As the Tory party's oldest allies, one might expect little less of them. What is more surprising is the lady heading their legal team. Mrs Cherie Blair deserves a separate life as Ms Cherie Booth, QC, one of the hottest briefs in town. That she is a successful lawyer earning more than her husband is a source of pleasure for all who want Britain to be a meritocracy where women with talent can get ahead. None the less she does deserve a measure of privacy in her profession, where the "cab rank" rule applies and barristers take whatever cases the solicitors bring them.

But we would need to be superhumanly self-denying not to notice the irony of Ms Booth's appearance yesterday on behalf of a brewer, Shepherd Neame. This is no ordinary blue brewer. Without the company Cherie Booth is representing in the Court of Appeal, the Conservative Party in the county of Kent would long ago have atrophied: they have supplied several generations of Kent County Council Tory members. Now the wife of the Labour premier is going into bat for them, in a case moreover which turns on restrictions in our trading relations with the European Union. Ms Booth will, on past performance, turn in a skilled and persuasive presentation of her client's case. In so doing she may be helping making the world safe for Toryism. What a tribute to political pluralism.