Like the first swallow of spring, the sound of chinked glasses in the sun signals the beginning of summer. It’s the annual party season and Mr S has been doing the rounds this week. Normally, buying and selling is left to the City but if Steerpike had to invest sums in anyone it would be Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.
Yesterday he was spotted tossing shrimp on the barbie with Aussies in Kensington; today he was the keynote speaker at ConservativeHome in Westminster. To a well-attended crowd, Wallace joked that ‘I’m not Michael Gove - well, I’m not how he used to be, in his speeches’ and claimed that, with regards to the AUKUS deal, ‘it seems the Australians were not happy with their deal with the French… they wanted a submarine that went forward as well as backwards.’
But Mr S most enjoyed Wallace’s jibe at his ministerial colleague and (potential) leadership contender Penny Mordaunt, who also enjoys wrapping herself up in the Union Jack. The Defence Secretary told the crowd:
‘Today, you’ll have seen the helicopters flying overhead, just before I gave my speech, that wasn’t a reminder that if you don’t laugh, I have snipers in some of those helicopters - it was simply the fact that it is Armed Forces week. Today it was the week that we celebrate our Armed Forces. Today it is Reserves day and we have many colleagues in the House who are reserves. We’ve got Mark Francois, he is in the reserves, we’ve got Penny Mordaunt who is a reservist as well in the Royal Navy. So Penny has got three jobs - she’s got the reserves, she’s an MP and she’s got the leadership.’
Talk about being in for a Penny, in for a pound, eh?