Claire Coutinhos kitchen nightmares, and the Maybot returns to conference

(Net) Zero to (Tory) Hero

Claire Coutinho may only just have been appointed to Rishi Sunak’s top table after an astonishing rise through the Tory ranks, but reshuffle day wasn’t the first time she’d been the centre of attention on TV.

Back in 2014 Ms Coutinho, then a supper club host prior to fully entering the world of politics, appeared on the little-remembered Channel 4 cooking game show The Taste.

She was picked by fellow Tory royalty Nigella Lawson to be one of her trainees, however ended up being eliminated in the third episode.

After a tricky search, Sir Arbuthnot managed to track down said footage to see exactly what Ms Coutinho’s appearance could tell us about her character now she’s in charge of delivering Britain’s crucial drive to Net Zero.

Claire Coutinho on Nigella cooking programme 2014

She was described as having a “complete lack of creativity”, “she f***ed up”, Nigella said she had “time management issues” and she saw herself in the bottom two twice in a row.

The best appraisal was from Nigella who came out with: “Claire seems very calm, but unfortunately she gets flustered, but her fluster doesn’t show itself – as it does with most people – by looking panicky, she just gets more and more still in a rather foreboding way”.

Useful for Laura Kuenssberg to bear in mind next time she’s interviewing the rising Tory star…

READ MORE: Shadow Minister’s reshuffle fears and Rishi’s guide to relaxation

Birmingham council leaders revel in their sticky wicket

Birmingham council’s bankruptcy announcement this week can be spun both ways depending on what party line you want to parrot: either it’s a damning indictment of Labour mismanagement in power, or a result of 13 years of austerity and cuts to local government by the Tories.

Either way it probably wasn’t the best of looks from the leader of Birmingham Council, John Cotton, to Skype in to a BBC interview from New York where he was celebrating his 50th birthday.

It’s not just Mr Cotton proving distracted by more enjoyable tasks. Two days before the council issued its Section 114 notice, his deputy leader Sharon Thompson was to be found spending the entire afternoon at Edgbaston for an England vs New Zealand cricket match.

In a tweet that has thus far gone under the radar, Ms Thompson said it was “always great to see Birmingham’s institutions looking towards the future”. It also appears that Ms Thompson stopped tweeting altogether on the 6th.

Whether Birmingham’s institutions still have a future given this week’s developments remains to be seen…

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CCHQ wakes up and smells the coffee

Given how quiet British politics was over the summer recess, political aides would be forgiven for needing to rely on the occasional coffee to make it through the day.

Unfortunately for staff at CCHQ, word reaches Beachcomber that their luxury multi-thousand-pound coffee machine – installed as a rare morale boost by former party chairman Nadhim Zahawi – has ended up as just another part of the daily Tory grind.

According to rumours, illnesses have started popping up and being attributed to disease-ridden off-milk in the machine, which was so expensive – apologies for the repeated bean-counting – CCHQ refused to service it until it was too late.

A source yesterday confirmed they’d spotted an engineer tending to the machine, so hopefully workplace bugs can be kept to a minimum from now on.

Still, no point crying over spilt milk.

Rishi Sunak haunted by PMs of Conference Past

Tory conference is being hyped up as make-or-break for Rishi Sunak this year, as he tries to enthuse party activists to go back to their constituencies and prepare for Government.

While this year’s will undoubtedly lack the sheer drama of last year’s, which saw a major U-turn on the 45p tax rate that ended up destroying Liz Truss’s premiership, this year’s is certain to be more boring.

Or is it? Word reaches Sir Arbuthnot that one Theresa May will be returning to Tory Party Conference for the first time since 2018.

Presumably this year she won’t be dancing to ABBA, though who knows what she’ll get up to at the late-night karaoke sessions after she’s finished flogging her book.

Oh, and then there’s that old thorn Nadine Dorries, who will also be pitching up, for Mr Sunak to deal with…

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