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EPHRAIM HARDCASTLE: Hammond’s pre-budget briefing of Queen





By Ephraim Hardcastle for the Daily Mail

Published: 20:56 EST, 16 February 2017 | Updated: 03:59 EST, 17 February 2017

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond’s pre-budget briefing of the Queen next month looks set to be frosty Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond’s pre-budget briefing of the Queen next month looks set to be frosty

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond’s pre-budget briefing of the Queen next month looks set to be frosty

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond’s pre-budget briefing of the Queen next month looks set to be frosty. 

The monarch is no doubt furious that the business rate increase adds £60,000 to her bill for Buckingham Palace. 

HM may not understand why the pile on the Mall isn’t just counted as residential, making her liable for council tax instead. 

Westminster Council is reducing that by 0.6 per cent from April, meaning the Queen would only have to shell out £1,337.62.

Nick Robinson’s morning ritual before presenting Today on Radio 4 is to let his cockapoo Sam into the garden between 3am and 4am. 

This week, distracted by having to go to work early to record a 4.15am interview with a US congressman, he departed for the BBC with Sam still in the garden. 

‘He woke my wife by barking at around 4,’ says Robinson. ‘I’m in the dog house but Sam greets me with his usual doggy enthusiasm.’

Whether the Queen will follow The Great British Bake Off on Channel 4 remains a mystery, but she’s a fan of Mary Berry, 81, who isn’t joining C4’s version. However, the Duchess of Cambridge can be expected to support Prue Leith, 77 tomorrow, taking on Ms Berry’s role. 

Kate’s culinary skills (such as they are) were improved by a course at Leiths School of Food and Wine. I wonder which of the TV pastry queens will bag her damehood first – Mary or Prue? Both have CBEs.

Lord (Melvyn) Bragg, 77, examined Maths in the Early Islamic World yesterday on his Radio 4 show In Our Time. A feast of erudition, as always. 

He shared the airwaves with his vicar daughter Marie-Elsa Bragg, 50, pictured, who delivered Prayer for the Day at 5.43am. Isn’t life grand?

Re the Today show, its new editor, Sarah Sands, comes from a high-achieving family. Her brother was one half of the singing duo Kit and the Widow, while her maternal grandmother eloped to Shanghai with a missionary, cruising up the Yangtze river in a junk carrying her grand piano.

Twenty coolies were required to carry it through the jungle. Bubbly Sarah’s considered an inspired choice for Today.

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, 39, says Russian hackers are spreading rumours about him French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, 39, says Russian hackers are spreading rumours about him

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, 39, says Russian hackers are spreading rumours about him

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, 39, says Russian hackers are spreading rumours about him, leading to suggestive headlines. ‘Macron – No, he’s not gay!’ says Closer magazine. 

France Dimanche announces: ‘Macron stands up to the odious rumour!’ The candidate’s wife Brigitte, 56, who was his high school teacher, hasn’t helped matters. 

She muses publicly about Macron’s pious approach: ‘It can be hard living with Joan of Arc.’

Writing in The Spectator, Charles Moore reveals details of Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s ‘private interview’ with ‘several young Etonians last summer’ in Moscow, adding: ‘One reason they got into the room, it seems, is that Mr Putin wanted to know about Eton and why it produced 19 prime ministers.’

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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