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ANDREW PIERCE: Edward Leigh is silent on Pope’s ‘Putin altar boy’ jibe
Good Catholics like to take their lead from the Pope. So one might have expected Tory grandee Sir Edward Leigh to have publicly backed the Pope’s criticism of the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church.
For Leigh is president of the Catholic Union of Great Britain and chairman of the all-party Commons group on the Holy See.
Earlier this month, Pope Francis called Patriarch Kirill of Moscow ‘Putin’s altar boy’ after the Orthodox leader — who preaches to a flock of 100 million — fervently supported Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine.
Good Catholics like to take their lead from the Pope. So one might have expected Tory grandee Sir Edward Leigh to have publicly backed the Pope’s criticism of the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church
Curiously, the usually garrulous Leigh hasn’t followed the pontiff’s denunciation. A spokesman for Leigh insists: ‘Sir Edward completely condemns Kirill’s support for Putin’s politics.’
But why hasn’t he said so in public? Could Leigh’s reticence have anything to do with the fact his aristocratic wife Mary — herself descended from the Russian Empress Catherine The Great — is a trustee of the charity of the London Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in Chiswick, West London?
This church has ties to Mother Russia, after all.
Ukraine’s thumping recent Eurovision win is posing a problem for ministers.
Normally, the victorious country hosts the contest the following year — but thanks to the war, that is most unlikely for the unfortunate Ukrainians.
Since Britain sensationally came second — so much for our post-Brexit isolation! — it may fall to us to organise the 2023 event at an estimated cost of £25 million.
My worried source at the Cabinet Office whimpers: ‘If the UK has to host it, it’s going to come out of our budget.’
Nul points for ministerial courage, chaps!
Egging on Maggie
A statue of Mrs Thatcher erected in her home town of Grantham was pelted with eggs last week by an idiot 59-year-old university employee.
Yet the Iron Lady was no stranger to the treatment. Lord Sherbourne, her private secretary for five years, says on a trip to Wales one hot day in July 1984: ‘Eggs were thrown at her. They landed on the car, where they fried and sizzled.’
You know times are tough when even the richest party donors suffer the misery of inflation themselves.
Tickets have gone on sale for the Conservative Party’s summer ball next month at the V&A museum in London. The price of a ‘premium’ table for ten has soared to an eye-watering £20,000 — up from £15,000 for the previous soiree. Those hoping to bag a ‘cheap’ table must now fork out a hefty £12,500, when it would have set them back a mere £10,000 last time.
‘Inflation is running at 9 per cent but we’ve shoved the price up 25 per cent,’ wails one Tory grandee, adding: ‘There might be a revolt among the donors.’
The struggle is real!
Far-Left elements of the Labour Party are plotting a ‘Justice for Jeremy’ movement for the party conference this September. Some want to change the rules to allow the suspended Jeremy Corbyn to stand again for Labour. If Sir Keir Starmer wants to prove he has kicked the madness of Corbynism out of Labour, this surely is the test.
If the PM is to succeed in reducing the civil service by 91,000 (current total about 475,000), there’s plenty of fat to cut. Not only was the Cabinet Office human resources department alone found to have 700 staff, no fewer than 80 are still working on the Cop26 eco-summit that took place more than six months ago. Why stop at cutting 91,000, Boris?
An ode to the folly of Wagatha
Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney’s Wagatha saga gripped the nation — as we watched through our fingers. My favourite comment comes from the great poet Pam Ayres:
Who will it be then, the Wagatha Queen?
Rebekah, d’you reckon, or maybe Coleen? Who’ll be the winner, and who will have lost?
What of a friendship now covered in frost?
The doors of the courtroom are shut with a clank, And the lawyers they laugh all the way to the bank.