What Thatcher told Mandelson: "You cannot trust the Irish. They are all liars."

The Labour peer reveals the advice Thatcher gave him after he became Northern Ireland Secretary.

The ever mischievous Peter Mandelson couldn't resist recalling Margaret Thatcher's advice to him after he became Northern Ireland Secretary when he appeared on the Today programme this morning. Thatcher told him:

You cannot trust the Irish. They are all liars. Just do not forget it.

As I reported last night, Mandelson, who once declared, "we are all Thatcherites now" (words which have got David Cameron into trouble today), has also criticised Thatcher's "quasi-state funeral". At Policy Exchange's event on her legacy with Michael Gove and Charles Moore, he said he would have "recommended against it" and that "Mrs T was not Churchill". 

Margaret Thatcher at the 1985 Conservative Party conference in Blackpool. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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It's official, Brexit means breakfast — or at least as far as John McDonnell is concerned

The shadow chancellor is not the first politician to confuse the UK's EU exit with the morning meal.

Who doesn’t hate a chaotic breakfast? As the shadow chancellor John McDonnell clearly knows, there is nothing worse than cold toast, soggy cereal and over boiled eggs. The mere thought of it makes the mole shiver.

In the middle of a totally cereal, sorry, speech this morning on Brexit and its impact on the economy, McDonnell expressed his fear that the government was “hurtling towards a chaotic breakfast". 

Addressing the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London, he argued that Theresa May’s government could decide to opt for a Brexit deal that favoured Tory “special interests" at the expense of the rest of the country.

Warming to his theme he accused Tory cabinet ministers of looking to “cook up” deals for their “friends in the City of London”, before making the powerful point that "Tory voters don't want a bankers' breakfast any more than I do". Bang, the same foodie blooper dropped twice in one speech. It seems that breakfast really does mean breakfast, or at least as far as McDonnell and the Labour Party are concerned.

He can take solace in the fact that he is not the only politician to fall into this particular verbal trap, it seems a fear of a lousy breakfast is shared by ministers across the political spectrum. In his speech to Conservative Party conference, Welsh Tory leader, Andrew T Davies, trumpeted the fact that the government would make the morning meal its top priority. “Conference, mark my words,” he said “we will make breakfast. . . Brexit, a success.” The Mole loves to hear such a passionate commitment to the state of the nation’s Weetabix.

And, it’s not just politicos who are mixing up the UK’s impending exit from EU with the humble morning meal. The BBC presenter Aaron Heslehurst was left red-faced after making multiple references to “breakfast” during a live broadcast, including one where he stated that it “had opened up a brave new world for UK exporters”. Who knew?

And there was your mole thinking that the hardest part of breakfast was getting up and out of the burrow early enough to enjoy it. Food for thought indeed.


I'm a mole, innit.