It was the strongest endorsement of her premiership yet. Unfortunately for Theresa May it did not come from any cabinet minister.
At the Conservatives’ Black and White ball fundraiser last week a party donor paid £55,000 to spend the day with her.
The dinosaurs went to the Natural History Museum to splash cash underneath the skeleton of a Blue whale.
Guests with a combined wealth of over £1 billion paid up to £15,000 to dine on sea trout, beef and mixed dessert canapes.
The prime minister rattled her tin for donations and vowed to “defeat socialism”.
A private meal with Gavin Williamson, the defence secretary, in one of the Churchill War Rooms commanded £30,000.
Banker Lubov Chernukhin, whose husband Vladimir was Russia’s deputy finance minister, won the bidding.
Williamson warned a fortnight ago that Russians were coming to cyber-attack on our power infrastructure.
Chernukhin has contributed £554,000 to Conservative coffers since 2012, when she was declared an “impermissible donor” after attempting to give the party £10,000.
She has given the Tories £211,000 in the past six months.
A home-cooked dinner with Michael Gove and his journalist wife Sarah Vine—at their kitchen table—went for £12,500. Lunch with Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, failed to exceed £2,000. Dinner with the Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson made more than £15,000. Inevitably bidding was fierce for a day of pheasant and partridge shooting.
Earlier around 150 guests were kept waiting outside in the cold as the doors to the bash opened late.
And a taxi protest hemmed in the poshos’ cars on the way out.
- COPS are being robbed blind with pairs of glasses and butter among items worth £8,000 taken from police stations.
The Metropolitan Police had 15 pairs of shoes and a vacuum cleaner stolen from secure areas. An iPad, watches and iPhones are also among 62 items nicked from 37 stations across London.
The Metropolitan Police said, “Security of police property can be improved.”
Farce of DWP’s failed assessments revealed
Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee asked the public to share their experience of disability benefit assessments carried out for the DWP by private contractors.
They received 4,000 individual responses detailing experiences of Tory cuts.
The Down’s Syndrome Association revealed some of the questions parents had been asked by assessors, such as:
“How long have they had Down’s syndrome for?”
“When did they catch Down’s syndrome?”
Others’ experiences were no better.
Nicki wrote, “Apparently I walk my dog daily, which was baffling because I can barely walk and I do not have a dog!”
Mary wrote, “She wrote I arose from the chair without any difficulty.
“I was in bed the whole time (she let herself in) and I only have the one chair in the room and she was sitting in it.”
Boy soldiers battered and told to cover up
Up to 15 “boy soldiers” say they were assaulted by instructors.
Recruits aged under 18 said that they were punched, kicked and humiliated such as being forced to parade naked.
One recruit lost his front teeth after he was smashed in the face with a rifle butt. He was ordered not to make a formal complaint or to claim it on his personal insurance.
The assaults took place at the Army’s Infantry Training Centre in Catterick between 2014 and 2017. One soldier said bullying by instructors was “quite common and often brutal”.
The soldier said humiliation of recruits was regarded as “banter” and complaints were dismissed.
Details of the abuse emerged as an inquest goes on into the death of Sean Benton who died at Deepcut Barracks in 1995. Benton, the first of four soldiers who died there, had five bullet wounds in his chest.
Tory MP paid to speak out
Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski was paid £15,000 to help organise a conference which was an attempt to gather support for a coup in Qatar.
Kawczynski declared two £7,500 payments on the parliamentary register.
They simply attribute the payments as being from a company called Akta Group.
The company is registered and entirely controlled by Tatiana Gisca. She is married to Khalid al-Hail, the Qatari who hosted the conference.
He styles himself as the founder of the Qatar National Democratic Party.
Ahead of the conference, but after he had already received the first £7,500 payment, Kawczynski said, “It’s not accurate to say I am backing the event.”
Kawczynski appeared on a panel alongside former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.
Drinks culture in government
Troublemaker doesn’t know what they’re drinking at Tory Matt Hancock’s culture department but they should take more water with it.
Not satisfied with launching his own app to take on Facebook, he is drunk with power. The department’s hospitality budget is staggering.
It has spent £46,400 on food and booze so far this financial year, and £52,000 last year.
It went on the wagon (ish) in 2015-16, splashing out just £9,600.
But 2014-15 was a real blast, costing £117,100.
THE THINGS THEY SAY
‘Shall we call that treason? Why not?’
US president Donald Trump’s reaction to not getting enough applause for a speech
‘I am starting to worry that if I sit still for too long in this chamber, I’ll stand up to discover my clothes have turned into lace’
Lord Vaux of Harrowden wants the Lords fumigated to get rid of the moths
‘I suppose you just get used to it”
Theresa May on being prime minister
‘I cannot describe the depth of my despair’
Former Carillion chairman Philip Nevill Green who has a £2.1 million house