Prince Philip glared at me like I’d just stran­gled his wife’s cor­gis

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - NEWS - Piers MOR­GAN

TUES­DAY, MAY 2

The UK elec­tion’s heat­ing up, mean­ing lots of politi­cians are hav­ing to ap­pear on Good Morn­ing Bri­tain whether they re­ally want to or not.

For­mer Lib­eral Demo­crat leader Nick Clegg’s never for­given me for once ask­ing him, in GQ, if he’s good in bed, which led to him boast­ing he’d slept with 30 women and earned him the West­min­ster so­bri­quet ‘Cleg­gover’.

The smoul­der­ing ten­sion be­tween us duly ex­ploded to­day af­ter I goaded him about ‘cyn­i­cally jump­ing into bed with David Cameron’, a ref­er­ence to the Con-Lib coali­tion gov­ern­ment, not a new bomb­shell rev­e­la­tion about Cleg­gover’s sex life.

‘Piers,’ he snapped, ‘this may come as a bit of a shock to you but not all politi­cians are cyn­i­cal. I put the coun­try first.’

‘Saint Clegg, those are bold words,’ I re­torted. ‘Many stu­dents might think it was pretty cyn­i­cal of you to prom­ise to get rid of tu­ition fees then tre­ble them. But I’ll take you at your word that you’re the shin­ing bas­tion of non-cyn­i­cism in the cyn­i­cal cesspit of West­min­ster, and thank God you’re here!’

Clegg bit his lip with undis­guised fury, looked off cam­era shak­ing his head, then mut­tered, ‘What an EX­TRA­OR­DI­NARY man…’

It wasn’t, as Su­sanna Reid con­firmed to view­ers, a com­pli­ment. ‘You’re so pompous, Piers!’ he raged. ‘What’s pompous about that?’ I re­torted. ‘It wasn’t me who tre­bled tu­ition fees.’

‘It’s this sanc­ti­mony so early in the morn­ing,’ he sighed.

‘It’s not sanc­ti­mony,’ I replied. ‘You sug­gested you’re not a cyn­i­cal politi­cian, yet that was very cyn­i­cal.’

‘Well I think you’re be­ing very pompous and sanc­ti­mo­nious,’ he fumed, ‘but that’s your style.’ He’s prob­a­bly right. But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. In­cred­i­bly, things got even live­lier later in the morn­ing when I locked horns with UK shadow home sec­re­tary Diane Ab­bott.

Labour say they’ll pledge in their man­i­festo to re­new the UK’s £100 bil­lion Tri­dent nu­clear weapons pro­gramme, but Jeremy Cor­byn him­self in­sists he’d never ac­tu­ally use it, which rather negates its use as a de­ter­rent if he wins.

Eight times I asked Ms Ab­bott if Labour would ever de­ploy our nu­clear de­fence, and eight times she re­fused to an­swer.

‘We don’t be­lieve that is the most press­ing threat,’ was her stonewall, de­flect­ing re­sponse in vary­ing ways.

What made this ex­cru­ci­at­ing ex­change even more com­i­cal was that stand­ing be­hind our GMB stu­dio cam­era (Diane was ap­pear­ing by re­mote), and wait­ing to come on next, were pop stars Brian McFad­den and Keith Duffy, who urged me on with ex­trav­a­gant fist-bumps and silent cheers. Even­tu­ally, I lost my tem­per. ‘Diane, it’s YES OR NO! We have nu­clear weapons, would you use them?’

‘The de­bate around press­ing the but­ton de­flects from more press­ing threats,’ she an­swered, robot­i­cally.

‘What could be more press­ing, in a nu­clear age, than some­one about to nuke us into ex­tinc­tion?’ ‘Ter­ror­ism is a more press­ing threat.’ ‘What if Isis gets a nu­clear weapon?’ ‘You’re pos­ing a hy­po­thet­i­cal threat. Any­way, I want to get back to crime…’

‘Ter­ror­ists blow­ing peo­ple up with nu­clear weapons IS a crime!’ I shouted, ex­as­per­ated. We ran out of time. ‘That was ****** g in­cred­i­ble!’ laughed Brian, when he sat on the sofa dur­ing the com­mer­cial break. ‘Why couldn’t she just say yes or no?’ ‘Be­cause she doesn’t know,’ I replied. I as­sumed this train-wreck in­ter­view would be the worst Ms Ab­bott gave all day. But it wasn’t even the worst she gave in that hour.

Her next was with the bril­liant Nick Fer­rari, in which she self-im­ploded try­ing to ex­plain how Labour would fund 10,000 ex­tra po­lice.

I texted Nick to con­grat­u­late him on a mas­ter­ful grilling.

He’d watched our in­ter­view be­fore con­duct­ing his own.

‘You were Joshua, she was Kl­itschko,’ he replied. ‘I reaped the ben­e­fit.’

THURS­DAY MAY 4

Prince Philip has re­tired from pub­lic du­ties at the age of 95.

By co­in­ci­dence, I was a lunch guest to­day of the Lord’s Tav­ern­ers cricket char­ity for which he has served as ‘Pa­tron and Twelfth Man’ for nearly 70 years.

I sat next to Michael Parkin­son, who was to later in­ter­view me on stage as the postlunch ‘en­ter­tain­ment’. ‘Have you met Philip?’ asked Parky. ‘Oh yes,’ I replied. ‘It didn’t go well!’ I re­counted my en­counter with the fiery Duke at Prince Charles’s 50th birth­day party in 1998 at Buck­ing­ham Palace.

At the time, I was ed­i­tor of the Daily Mir­ror, and I was stand­ing with the ed­i­tor of The Sun when Philip walked to­wards us. ‘Who are you?’ he growled, sus­pi­ciously. ‘Well sir,’ I replied, shak­ing his hand, ‘I’m afraid you’re cur­rently sur­rounded by the tabloid press.’

He checked my name badge, then glared at me like I’d just stran­gled his wife’s cor­gis, yanked away his hand and stomped off with­out say­ing an­other word, paus­ing a few yards on to glance back at me and say to an­other guest: ‘My God, you just can’t tell from the out­side, can you?’ Parky roared with laugh­ter. ‘No knight­hood for you then...’ ‘Ap­par­ently, Philip’s done over 22,191 solo en­gage­ments and given 5,493 speeches,’ I said.

‘Bloody hell!’ ex­claimed Parky, now 82 and a fe­ro­ciously hard worker him­self. ‘That ex­hausts me just think­ing about it.’ Chris Tar­rant was on a nearby ta­ble. ‘Ah Mor­gan,’ he chuck­led, try­ing to un­nerve me be­fore my in­ter­view, ‘re­mem­ber that ab­so­lutely no­body in this room knows who the hell you are!’

At which point his girl­friend Jane Bird jumped up to give me a kiss, say­ing: ‘I love you Piers, I’m your big­gest fan!’

I never thought I’d see a more hor­ri­fied face than Prince Philip’s when he met me.

But Tar­rant’s eclipsed it.

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