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17Sep

Diary of an MP’s Wife by Sasha Swire review – a thrillingly indiscreet political memoir

From Dominic Cummings as an ‘amoeba’ to royal political preferences and David Cameron’s colonoscopy ... a behind-the-scenes Tory reveals the political gossip

We have come a long way, thankfully, since the days of political wives being expected to stand mutely by their man. But Sasha Swire is still perhaps unusual in standing behind hers with a notebook. A former journalist who gave up her career to look after her family, she had kept a diary since childhood, and carried on jotting down daily insights gleaned throughout her husband Hugo’s time as a minister under their good friend David Cameron (and subsequently as a backbencher under Theresa May). She insists she never originally intended to publish the resulting inside story of a turbulent Tory decade, for fear it would be seen as a betrayal. Yet somehow she ended up showing the diary to a literary agent – as one does, when absolutely determined not to betray anyone – and bang, here she is, author of one of the most thrillingly indiscreet political memoirs I have ever read. The dedication, to Hugo, consists of one single breezy word: “Sorry!” Well, the reader won’t be.

Imagine the Alan Clark diaries, but written by his wife Jane instead: all the high-octane political gossip, set against a backdrop of country house shooting weekends and boozy dinners at Chequers, but seen through the sceptical eyes of a woman one step removed from all the head-butting stags. From Samantha Cameron’s appalled reaction to the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, to what can only be described as too much information about David Cameron’s colonoscopy, she spills the guts of four governments in a book most of Westminster will doubtless be reading this autumn. One can only imagine Buckingham Palace’s reaction meanwhile to her observation, following a private dinner with Prince Edward in 2010, that he “seems overwhelmed with relief that the Conservatives have got in”.

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