On Tuesday he was a chef, last night he was a comedian. For his second consecutive appearance as guest of honour at a Westminster summer bash, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace entertained the hundreds gathered at ConservativeHome’s annual reception yesterday with a few well-placed gags at his colleagues’ expense. The crowd seemed to go for the first third, though a fellow Cabinet Minister suggested the latter 10 minutes could have been trimmed.
Opening with a crack at Michael Gove, Wallace quipped:
“Quite a hard speech to give, because not only is speaking to your own is always one of the biggest challenges, it’s one of those speeches where you’re supposed to be funny. And I’m not Michael Gove. Well, I’m not how he used to be…”
Not bad. Although he saved the best for his MoD predecessor – and potential leadership rival – Penny Mordaunt:
“Today, you’ll have seen the helicopters flying overhead, just before I gave my speech. That wasn’t a reminder that if you don’t laugh, I have snipers in some of those helicopters. It was simply the fact that it is Armed Forces week. Today it was the week that we celebrate our Armed Forces. Today was Reserves day and we have many colleagues in the House who are reserves. We’ve got Mark Francois, he is in the reserves, we’ve got Penny Mordaunt who is a reservist as well in the Royal Navy. So Penny’s got three jobs: she’s in the reserves, she’s an MP and the leadership.”
Smiles all round, no Penny in sight, though Guido hears she’s got party planning of her own to do…