PLATELL'S PEOPLE: The prospect of Penny as PM fills me with horror

PLATELL’S PEOPLE: I know and like Penny Mordaunt, but the prospect of her as Prime Minister fills me with horror

Weeks ago when it was becoming clear that Boris Johnson, the most successful PM we Tories have had for decades, was about to be dethroned, I called former Cabinet ministers who had worked with Penny Mordaunt.

Their verdict was universal. One said: ‘She’s a lovely woman, decent, honourable, but she’s not that quick.’

Another said it would be ‘a mistake to replace a leader with a brain the size of Britain with someone who had a brain the size of the Isle of Man’.

Today, I am rather surprised to see the same people now appearing on TV championing Mordaunt as the saviour of the Tory party.

And even more surprised that the amiable young woman I hired in Conservative Central Office as a junior press officer more than 20 years ago, when I was William Hague’s press secretary, should now be the second favourite to get the top job. The world has gone mad.

Their verdict was universal. One said: ‘She’s a lovely woman, decent, honourable, but she’s not that quick.’ Another said it would be ‘a mistake to replace a leader with a brain the size of Britain with someone who had a brain the size of the Isle of Man’

When I first came across Penny, she was sensationally beautiful with a Marilyn Monroe figure and masses of perfectly coiffured hair — but she never played on her sexuality.

She was a hard worker. She lived in Reading and walked to get the 4am bus, then a 5am train, to be in the London office by six for her early shift. Even then, she was fiercely ambitious. Today, her PM4PM slogan is witty, but to think she could become our Prime Minister fills me with horror.

Choosing our next leader is an existential challenge. Frontrunner Rishi Sunak is a member of the liberal global elite, eye-wateringly rich with a wife who claimed non-dom tax status. And a back-stabber whose resignation triggered Boris’s downfall.

Then we have Mordaunt, a trade minister who was briefly a secretary of state, untried in the heat of battle, and so woke she’s still obfuscating about what it is to be a woman. In third place is Liz Truss, a woman who has served in Cabinet as Foreign Secretary and has, as even her detractors admit, rather distinguished herself.

The contest has become like that game women play after a few too many glasses of wine selecting someone they’d sleep with: ‘Which one if you had to?’ Who could go for a back-stabber like Sunak, or an ingenue like Mordaunt?

Which one if I had to? I’m afraid it would have to be Liz Truss.

When I first came across Penny, she was sensationally beautiful with a Marilyn Monroe figure and masses of perfectly coiffured hair — but she never played on her sexuality. She was a hard worker. She lived in Reading and walked to get the 4am bus, then a 5am train, to be in the London office by six for her early shift

My vet told me to put sunscreen on my ginger cat Ted, mostly white with splodges, to avoid skin cancer. I put Factor 50 on his nose, ears and tummy as recommended. Clearly distressed, he spent the next two hours licking it all off, then threw up on the sofa. 

The sinner takes it all 

After leaving his second wife of 41 years, Abba’s Bjorn Ulvaeus, 77, appears with his new girlfriend Christina Sas, almost three decades younger than him, saying they’d been dating ‘for a while’ and she had nothing to do with his marriage ending.

Mamma Mia, here we go again! Frankly, I could never trust a man who divorced the most divine woman in the whole world, his first wife Agnetha, she of the perfect thighs.

Divine irony for Hugh

How disappointing that Hugh Grant says he won’t take the role of Prince Andrew in the forthcoming movie about that BBC Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis — which led to the Queen’s son’s removal from public life over allegations he bedded one of Jeffrey Epstein’s girls.

Maybe Grant feared it would rake up memories of his own sexual indiscretions, having been arrested for ‘lewd behaviour’ with LA hooker Divine Brown.

In one breath, TV veteran Fern Britton says she wishes she’d ‘persevered’ with, and not bailed out of, her 20-year marriage to her rather dishy ex-husband, chef Phil Vickery. In the next, she’s saying she’s happy being single, that ‘life is pretty bloody perfect right now’, yet she wouldn’t turn down the overtures of someone who was ‘lovely and kind’. Which is sad really, as those who know him say Phil is both of those things — and apparently still single. 

Ahead of the predicted heatwave next week, some schools are cancelling PE lessons to protect their precious diddums, while others are telling pupils to stay at home and indoors as the temperature soars. No surprises there from teachers of our most pampered generation of children. What melts first in the heat? A snowflake. 

Much outpouring of sympathy after Mo Farah’s revelation that he was trafficked to the UK aged nine after his father died, and was forced into domestic servitude.

What a terrible ordeal, yet we all still love him.

Perhaps even more importantly, we were all heartened by those TV scenes of the multi-millionaire athlete being reunited with his mother and brothers. Now that’s a story I’d like to hear: how with his wealth Mo has helped them out of abject poverty.

Prince Charles and Camilla top Tatler’s annual Social Power Index as the most influential couple in the UK, a no-brainer as they are our future King and Queen consort. Yet how absurd that Wayne and Coleen Rooney came second, or even featured.

He the tubby prostitute-loving former football star who’s now headed off to the U.S. to find work; she the WAG staying at home to look after their four kids, when she’s not on holiday.

The only thing these women have in common is, as Camilla revealed in a documentary this week, their love of gnomes. Camilla has them in her garden, Coleen is married to one.

Well done Nigella Lawson, who called out mean TV chefs for turning cooking into a ‘theatre of cruelty’ and making people worry about food at home. My recipe for a stress-free meal is Costco’s beef casserole, macaroni cheese and salad — plus large dollops of vino. Licking the spoon a-la-Nigella is optional.

It’s about songs, Lady G

Lady Gaga has teamed up with Donatella Versace to design extravagant outfits for her forthcoming world tour — so precious they have their own 24/7 security guards.

Meanwhile, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen are on global tours, wearing jeans and singing songs that define our lives. With Lady Gaga it’s all about the costumes, not the songs. It seems a bit Shallow, Lady Gaga.

After Ivana Trump’s death aged 73 falling down the stairs, many recall her famous line in her cameo appearance in the hit movie The First Wives’ Club where she advises divorcing women: ‘Don’t get mad, get everything!’

Yet that underestimates the real story of the Czech refugee who landed in America as a model, became a successful businesswoman in her own right, helped design Trump Tower (for which we can just about forgive her), married four times and supported her ex Donald in his bid for presidency.

And you’ve got to admire a woman who said: ‘My version of helicopter parenting was to bring the kids to work with me in the Trump chopper.’

San Francisco mental health company BetterUp must be wondering why they employed Prince Harry as ‘Chief Impact Officer’, when he told us to ‘flex’ rather than ‘fix’ our minds to unlock the greatness within. Who wants lectures on greatness from such a whinger? 

A NEW report reveals some families are now so poor in the cost-of-living crisis they are forced to use washing-up liquid as shampoo and even to wash their clothes. Call that poor? Growing up in Australia in the 1960s, where the newspaper was the emergency loo roll and a bar of soap was the hair wash, Fairy liquid was a luxury!

So Kylie unlikely

Before their appearance in the final episode of Neighbours, Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan are to release their 1988 hit Especially For You in which she sings: ‘My love never changed, I still feel the same.’

And miraculously, 34 years on, the Aussie star’s face looks the same. Now 54 and denying she’s ever had any work done, Kylie says it’s all down to her Pond’s Cold Cream Cleanser and good genes. To which we women of a certain age reply, we should be so lucky!

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