16 September 2020 04:35

Heidi Allen Brexit Michael Gove

hugo swire

Yesterday saw the latest instalment of Sasha Swire's now not-so-secret Diary Of An MP's Wife, and I found myself wondering who should host the forthcoming book launch. Or perhaps David Cameron would prefer to do it on the off chance that she might finally let him 'give her one in the bushes' afterwards. Maybe it should be George Osborne — or 'Boy George' as Sasha likes to refer to the former Chancellor. Judging by the various conversations I've had over the past few days with old acquaintances about her jottings, poor Sasha and her husband Hugo, may find themselves on an extended holiday in social Siberia. Samantha Cameron (left) and Michael Gove's wife, Sarah Vine, (right) during the State Opening of Parliament of Palaces of Westminster Because the diary — covering the days of the Cameron-led Coalition, when Hugo was Northern Ireland Minister — could not be more wantonly indiscreet.

david cameron

(It was on a country walk in Cornwall 2011, Sasha claims, that Dave said he wanted to drag her into the bushes.) Perhaps the Camerons and their circle won't mind one bit that someone they thought of as a confidante was, in fact, taking notes all along; squirreling away all those juicy anecdotes for future use. Perhaps they'll all be back at the Camerons' place in Cornwall in time for the weekend, revisiting Dave's 'teenage snogging haunts' (he pointed them out on a walk) and indulging in a spot of competitive bodysurfing with Harry Enfield. Like Alan Clark and Henry 'Chips' Channon before her (the latter of whom's own account of life as an MP during the inter- war years was published nine years after his death — and even then had to be heavily redacted), there's no doubt that Sasha has a brilliant eye for an anecdote. It's a bit like someone writing an account of Winston Churchill during the war years, and only ever mentioning the cigars and the Pol Roger; or reducing H. H. Asquith to nothing more than a besotted drunk, penning love letters to Venetia Stanley during Cabinet meetings; or characterising Gordon Brown simply as a phone-throwing maniac.

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David Cameron alongside his wife Samantha discuss how Brexit cost them their friendship with Michael Gove and Sarah Vine These are all, it's true, juicy anecdotes. Because the truth is that Sasha only really saw the Camerons — and, in particular, Dave — in off-duty mode; when his guard was down and he was intent on letting off a bit of steam with someone he clearly thought he could trust. A case in point is a passage in this latest extract where she writes about a heated exchange between me and Samantha at a mutual friend's 50th birthday. 'It all goes wrong when Sarah [Gove] and Sam [Cameron], fur flying, have a set-to at the party, with everyone watching and listening in. It's true: Samantha and I really did have an argument that night — over Brexit, the first and last time we ever exchanged cross words.

And this goes to the heart of why this book represents such a betrayal: despite my friendship with Samantha, I knew there were always things she didn't — or couldn't — tell me, purely because she was wary of my professional status as a journalist. But with Sasha that was not the case. Hugo Swire (right) and his wife Sasha, (left), writer of 'Diary of an MP's Wife: Inside and Outside Power' On the morning after the referendum, she wakes her husband, telling him 'we need to get back to London to prop up Dave'. (Tip: if you want to prop up a friend in crisis, maybe best not to write a diary making him look like a cross between Benny Hill and Tim Nice-But-Dim.) Because, let's face it, the Cameron of this memoir comes across as a bit of a bumptious fool. These moments that Swire describes are, for all their absurdity, rare moments of relaxation, but they certainly don't capture the whole man. Don't get me wrong, I have no axe to grind for Cameron — I haven't spoken to him properly since before the referendum. But I do believe in fairness, and this portrayal of him as indulging the whole time in an endless round of ridiculous Sloaney parties is not fair. While the revelation about Dave apparently recoiling 'from her gin-sodden breath' on the day he tendered his resignation as Prime Minister is, frankly, just mean. The David Cameron I knew, especially in the early years of his premiership when it was still possible to bypass the No 10 machine, was well-read, a good listener and someone who empathised and felt things deeply. His patience and love for his severely disabled son Ivan was extraordinary. But also a pragmatist, one who always did his best to see everyone's point of view but who, in the end, was not afraid to assume responsibility for making hard decisions. David Cameron was ­"incandescent" with rage at a boozy dinner after losing the Brexit referendum, a new His fury was "almost entirely" directed at top Tory Michael Gove, Sasha Swire, a family friend, claims in her diary. In his own memoir Mr Cameron branded Mr Gove a "foam-flecked Faragist". He asked then Tory MP Sir Hugo Swire and his wife to come over with "plenty of booze", according to Diary of an MP's Wife. (Image: Getty) The couple discovered Samantha Cameron "devastated" by the result. Mr Cameron told the couple he "despised" Boris ­Johnson's lack of ideology and that his support for Brexit was all about his own leadership ambitions. (Image: Express & Echo) In a previous extract, serialised in the Times, she said that during a walk he asked her to go behind him because the "scent you are wearing… makes me want to... Is what we've all been thinking as we read extracts of Diary of an MP's Wife by Sasha Swire, the wife of Sir Hugo Swire, a former minister of state for Northern Ireland in David Cameron's government. Last week only the most up-to-speed among us were aware of Hugo Swire, never mind his glamorous wife. Well now we are, and it appears that they were one of just four political couples (so both the Camerons told her, independently, at one of their soirées) that were welcome in the inner circle. Not just that, it was Sasha and Hugo who consoled David and Samantha the night after his resignation. It was Sasha and Hugo who accompanied them to Polzeath on that holiday (think we all