Ben goldsmith

The delights of two-timing

Looking back and trying to choose just one out of those incomparably bewitching women of one’s youth can be tricky. Giselle was definitely one of them – blonde, French, mesmeric, an apparition – but so was Kiki, very white-skinned, also French, patrician and very sexy. They were friends, those two, but they fell out after they chose the same boyfriend. They were also married to men who knew and liked the boyfriend, but back then such things were commonplace, and it was Paris after all. Both ladies are still alive and now quite old, Giselle a widow, Kiki a princess. There were many other beauties, of course, but those two

Defra director: I’m with Extinction Rebellion

Westminster’s favourite millionaire environmentalists are it again. It seems that one or other of the Goldsmith brothers can’t go three months without sticking their foot in it. Today it’s the turn of Ben, the less prominent but no less gaffe-prone millionaire, who is one of the non-executive directors in Defra – the environment department in which his brother Zac currently serves as minister. Undeterred by last night’s shenanigans by Crispin Blunt, Ben Goldsmith decided to today make himself the main character of Tory twitter by offering his views on the oil blockades currently being imposed by eco-activists. Responding to Labour’s call to impose an injunction on the disruptors, Goldsmith declared: Not

Zac Goldsmith, No. 10’s rapid rebuttal service

It’s a tough gig defending this government. So tough in fact that the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson Allegra Stratton left the role before even giving a single press conference. The past week is a case in point – with No. 10 facing miserable headlines over the ongoing feud between Johnson, his fiancée Carrie Symonds and departed No. 10 aide Dominic Cummings.  Johnson has had to deny making a ‘bodies’ comment on Covid deaths while several inquiries are now underway as to how the funding for the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat first came about. Perhaps it’s little wonder then that these days ministers don’t seem overjoyed to be out

Defra keeps it in the family

Who is in charge at Defra? Technically, it’s the environment secretary George Eustice. But in recent weeks there have been whisperings of the growing influence of the Goldsmith clan. Zac Goldsmith is a minister in the department as well as a close friend of both Boris Johnson and his fiancé Carrie Symonds. Just this weekend, a No. 10 source came out to deny claims from the farming lobby that Symonds and Goldsmith had teamed up in a bid to tie up farmers in red tape to protect the environment. It’s something of a family affair at the department with Goldsmith’s brother Ben a board director at Defra despite breaking his own department’s rules over the

In memory of the man who never slept

The enforced boredom of lockdown has been replaced by a feeling of loss. My nephew by marriage, Hansie Schoenburg, died aged 33 from a brain tumour, and then there was the death of my close friend Shahriar Bakhtiar, aged 72. Hansie was tall, blond, a Yale grad, and extremely handsome. Recently married, he died surrounded by his family. He was very close to both my children. Shahriar was the Persian Boy who, as a slender, bright-eyed six-year-old with not a word of English, was dispatched from Persia to an English school known for its cold rooms and strict rules. The Persian Boy learned early to do without parents. The bitter