ANDREW PIERCE: Crackdown on oligarchs could cost Tory chief
As joint Tory Party chairman, the impeccably well-connected businessman Ben Elliot is one of Boris Johnson’s most trusted allies.
Seen but never heard, Elliot, the nephew of the Duchess of Cornwall, works behind the scenes schmoozing with wealthy Tory donors.
But his personal cash-making capacity will be hampered by the Government’s crackdown on Russian oligarchs.
Elliot is the founder of Quintessentially, an exclusive lifestyle company which provides luxury concierge services including restaurant recommendations and access to high society events.
The firm, which has a £1 million government contract, has many super-rich Russian members in the UK, and its Moscow office employs no fewer than 50 lifestyle managers who pledge a ‘bespoke luxury lifestyle at our clients’ fingertips’.
Tory Party chairman Ben Elliot’s firm Quintessentially has many super-rich Russian members in the UK, and its Moscow office employs no fewer than 50 lifestyle managers who pledge a ‘bespoke luxury lifestyle at our clients’ fingertips’
The company’s Moscow chief Kirill Levadny says: ‘Russia is vast and rich, where even the richest have concierge needs.
‘It’s not enough to have money; one has to have proper contacts to maximise use of that money. At Quintessentially, we know and can connect you to the right people.’
Perhaps not for much longer.
Matt Hancock, who quit as Health Secretary after he broke social distancing rules with his married lover, was trying to catch the Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s eye during the Living With Covid debate.
Turning to Hancock, the Speaker majestically intoned: ‘The man for the rules — Matt Hancock.’
Cue laughter on both sides of the chamber
Comics get serious
Screenwriter David Baddiel is part of the growing fan club of embattled Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — a former comedy actor.
‘I have to say that if anyone is looking for a role model for a Jewish comedian able to get serious when necessary, look no further than Volodymyr Zelensky,’ he says.
It was — mercifully — only a brief appearance on the BBC’s Weakest Link celebrity edition for pompous former Commons Speaker John Bercow.
He was voted off after failing to name an extinct animal in a picture section. He said dinosaur, when it was a mammoth.
When he left, he said: ‘It was an abject humiliation and I feel deeply ashamed.’
Pity he didn’t feel ashamed when an inquiry upheld 21 complaints of bullying against him.
Sophie Howe, the Welsh Labour government’s ‘Future Generations Commissioner’, has called for a trial of a four-day working week in the public sector, which has higher rates of absence than average.
Howe thinks it will be popular with staff. Of course it will. But not with the rest of us.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace as he updates MPs on the situation in Ukraine
Put-down of the week: The increasingly impressive Defence Secretary Ben Wallace swatted away Green MP Caroline Lucas in the debate on Ukraine.
‘Time and again, President Putin has ignored international law, ignored human rights, invaded countries, and murdered British people on these streets,’ he said.
‘All she can do is stand up and tell us we are in the wrong. Perhaps she should go to Moscow and tell it to them.’
Lord Palmerston, who became PM during the Crimean War, said: ‘The policy … of the Russian government has always been to push forward its encroachments as fast and as far as the apathy of other governments would allow it to go, but always to stop when met with determined resistance… and then wait for another opportunity.’ Little has changed.
Andrea’s on her best behaviour
In a pub in Padstow, Cornwall, last month, former Commons leader Andrea Leadsom, pictured, was overheard opining on her leadership credentials.
Former Commons leader Andrea Leadsom, pictured, was overheard opining on her leadership credentials
Remarking that she’s ‘one of only three dames in the parliamentary party’, she said she had been advised to sit tight and ‘behave herself’ while the PM’s problems pile up.
Leadsom, a Brexiteer who withdrew from the final round of the 2016 leadership contest, publishes her memoirs Snakes And Ladders in May, days after crucial local elections which Boris’s leadership depends upon.
Will the book be the manifesto for her second leadership bid?