Steerpike

Nicholas Soames teaches Lady Nugee a lesson

Nicholas Soames teaches Lady Nugee a lesson
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Emily Thornberry has not had an easy few weeks since her appointment as shadow defence secretary last month. On Monday she received a frosty reception at a meeting of the PLP, when Labour MPs heckled her as she discussed the party's Trident policy. With members of her own party now against her, perhaps it's only natural that she has sought counsel elsewhere.

The Sun reports that Thornberry's assistant contacted Nicholas Soames to ask if the Tory grandee would meet her so she could hear 'any insights' Soames has to offer on Labour's defence review. Alas, Soames will not be taking Thornberry up on the offer anytime soon. It turns out that Winston Churchill's grandson is not all that keen to contribute to the Labour's defence policy. He penned an acerbic reply, which has since been leaked to The Sun:

Dear Mr Gregory,

I think I should let you know that a lunatic, who seems to have got hold of your name, has sent me a message inviting me to meet with Lady Nugee for a tea or luncheon at some future date.

I am delighted that Lady Nugee is keen to meet with me, given my expertise and experience in defence matters, but I am afraid that the insight that I would have to offer on Labour's defence review is too robust for Lady Nugee's delightfully delicate sensibilities.

Please will you be good enough to tell her that the invitation, which is clearly a joke, will be going into the waste paper bin which is where Labour's defence policy always ends up.

I am copying this to the Chief Whip, the Secretary of State for Defence, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, the Minister of State for Defence Procurement, the National Security Adviser and the Editor of the Eton College Chronicle.

Nicholas Soames

Mr S suspects this will be the last time Thornberry asks a Conservative politician for help on a Labour matter.

Still, Thornberry need not feel alone when it comes to her treatment by Soames. This is just one in a long line of ripostes from Winston Churchill's grandson:

  • In 2013 Tory backbencher Adam Afriyie became the subject of Soames' vitriol when he tried to amend David Cameron's EU referendum Bill. Soames' response? 'You are a chateau bottled nuclear powered c---. You are totally f---ing disloyal, a f---ing disgrace to your party, your fellow MPs, your prime minister and your country. This is nothing more than a grotesque f---ing vanity project to promote your absurd f---ing campaign to become party leader. You aren’t up to it, man!'
  • Not one for disloyalty, Soames also went into attack mode when Nicholas Winterton attempted a rebellion against Sir John Major. He said they were 'c---s – and ugly ones to boot'.
  • Soames doesn't hold back when it comes to more light-hearted comments either. The former Tory MP Tim Sainsbury learnt this the hard way when he dared pass comment on Soames' fashion sense. On seeing him in the Commons on a Friday dressed in tweeds, Sainsbury asked him if he was 'going rat catching'. At which point Soames replied: 'screw you grocer boy: people like you don't tell me how to dress on a Friday'.
  • The Tory MP also doesn't always take kindly to hacks. Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman discovered this the hard way this month when he approached Soames to ask whether his recent weight loss was down to a gastric band. Soames' reply? Contacted twice, on both occasions he told Shipman to 'f--- off'.
  • Written bySteerpike

    Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from London and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk.

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