‘Love him or hate him, at least rees-Mogg is hon­est’

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - CONTENTS - Piers Mor­gan


GQ’s glo­ri­ously en­ter­tain­ing Men of the Year awards cel­e­brated its 20th birth­day tonight. I ar­rived at Tate Modern to find a fum­ing Gor­don Ram­say.

‘I can’t be­lieve you told ev­ery­one that f***ing Tiger Woods story!’ he bel­lowed, re­fer­ring to last week’s di­ary item about him ly­ing to Tiger about be­ing a good golfer.

‘Re­ally?’ I said. ‘You can’t be­lieve I told a funny story that made you look ter­ri­ble?’

He burst out laugh­ing. ‘You’re right! Of course you were go­ing to tell ev­ery­one that f***ing story. You’re Piers f***ing Mor­gan!’

Ram­say, un­like many celebri­ties, al­ways laughs at him­self as cheer­fully as he laughs at ev­ery­one else. It’s why I like him.

As we spoke, Eng­land foot­ball man­ager Gareth South­gate came up to say hello.

‘How’s the world’s most dif­fi­cult, thank­less job go­ing?’ I asked. ‘It’s… in­ter­est­ing!’ ‘What’s been the big­gest sur­prise?’ ‘When you’re an Eng­land player, you re­turn to your club af­ter a game and the fo­cus moves to that. But when you’re the Eng­land man­ager, the me­dia at­ten­tion, crit­i­cism and pres­sure never stops. I’m hugely en­joy­ing it though.’

‘You re­alise that un­less you win a tro­phy, you’ll be mocked, abused, deemed a fail­ure and un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously sacked.’

South­gate chuck­led. ‘I do, yes… thanks for re­mind­ing me, though.’

I spied com­edy ge­nius Ash Atalla, who pro­duced The Of­fice. ‘How are you, Piers?’ he asked. ‘Not great,’ I replied, ‘I’ve got three bro­ken ribs.’

Ash, who’s been in a wheel­chair since con­tract­ing po­lio as a kid, was unim­pressed. ‘I can’t bloody walk and you’re moan­ing about sore ribs? Get a grip of your­self, you pa­thetic ex­cuse for a man.’

He had a point. I limped down to din­ner and saw Jeremy Clark­son, who re­cently sur­vived a se­ri­ous bout of pneu­mo­nia. ‘You’re ALIVE!’ I ex­claimed. ‘Yes, Mor­gan,’ he re­sponded. ‘Don’t look so dis­ap­pointed.’

‘To be hon­est, I have felt slightly torn about this threat to your life. How’s your smok­ing ban go­ing?’

‘To­day was the first day when I re­ally craved a fag,’ said the man who re­cently ad­mit­ted to de­vour­ing 630,000 cig­a­rettes.

Then he pulled out five pack­ets of nico­tine chew­ing gum from his jacket pocket. ‘I’ve had to come with emer­gency stocks of these.’

My ta­ble housed heavy­weight boxer David Haye, East-En­ders star Larry Lamb and Ar­se­nal’s Span­ish right back, Hec­tor Bel­lerin. The lat­ter eyed me with trep­i­da­tion. ‘Piers, I know you’re not happy about Ar­se­nal,’ he stam­mered.

‘No, Hec­tor, I am most def­i­nitely NOT happy about Ar­se­nal.’ ‘Things will im­prove,’ he promised. ‘They couldn’t get much worse,’ I growled. ‘I’m very happy to come and ad­dress the play­ers my­self if nec­es­sary.’

He laughed ner­vously. ‘No, no, I’ll pass it on.’

Later, fel­low Ar­se­nal fan Jeremy Cor­byn came over to speak to him. When I tried to in­ter­rupt, the Labour leader – whose wife is Mex­i­can – promptly switched to flu­ent Span­ish to shut me out of the con­ver­sa­tion. ‘What did you tell him?’ I asked. Cor­byn smirked. ‘I told him to please send Arsène Wenger my very best and as­sure him he con­tin­ues to have my full sup­port, even if he’s lost yours, Piers. In fact, par­tic­u­larly be­cause he’s lost yours…’

‘He’s lost mine be­cause we keep los­ing,’ I re­torted. ‘You and Wenger are the only losers in foot­ball and pol­i­tics to keep their job... no won­der you love him.’

Cor­byn got a huge cheer when he pre­sented an award. His ex­tra­or­di­nary pop­u­lar­ity shows no sign of abat­ing.

The best speech came from Rob Bry­don, who branded ‘Saint’ Steve Coogan ‘a sanc­ti­mo­nious pr***’ – a per­fect as­sess­ment of the whin­ing lit­tle press-loathing weasel.

Good Morn­ing Bri­tain in­ter­viewed var­i­ous stars on the red car­pet and asked them if I was ‘quite the amaz­ing man he thinks he is’.

Der­mot O’Leary was em­phatic: ‘No, not at all, too opin­ion­ated, needs to be nicer to peo­ple, wear nicer suits, how long have you got?’

Bry­don was am­bigu­ous: ‘Piers is a one off, I think we have to aim lower.’

Singer Charli XCX was weird: ‘I mean yeah, I wouldn’t date him.’ (I never asked you to date me, luv, who­ever you are…)

As so of­ten, Liam Gal­lagher had the last word: ‘Piers is an Ar­se­nal fan, ain’t he – so he’s not that f***ing good.’

WED­NES­DAY, SEPTEM­BER 6 Ja­cob Rees-Mogg, the favourite to re­place Theresa May as Tory leader, sparked a mas­sive furore on GMB to­day by telling Su­sanna and me that he didn’t be­lieve in abor­tion, even in cases of rape or in­cest, nor gay mar­riage.

I ve­he­mently dis­agree with him but I do sup­port his right to have an opinion, which he prof­fered calmly and re­spect­fully, and I ad­mire his balls in stat­ing it un­equiv­o­cally.

Politi­cians who give straight an­swers to straight ques­tions, even if their an­swers are con­tro­ver­sial, are in­fin­itely prefer­able to the vast ma­jor­ity who use ob­fus­ca­tion and spin.

Like him or loathe him, Rees-Mogg was at least hon­est and vot­ers can now judge him ac­cord­ingly.

THURS­DAY, SEPTEM­BER 7 En­joyed a de­light­ful six-hour lunch at Fort­num & Mason to cel­e­brate the new grouse sea­son. Sit­ting op­po­site me was Der­mot O’Leary. ‘Who are you?’ asked a guest next to him. ‘I’m Der­mot O’Leary.’ ‘What do you do?’ ‘I host The X Fac­tor.’ ‘What’s The X Fac­tor?’ I laughed so hard my spleen nearly erupted. ‘I’d get a bit more opin­ion­ated if I were you, mate,’ I sug­gested. ‘Then peo­ple might have heard of you.’

SATURDAY, SEPTEM­BER 9 Ar­se­nal beat Bournemouth 3-0, and Hec­tor Bel­lerin had a stormer. My pep talk clearly worked.

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