MP’s lover tells how his af­fair be­gan

Daily Mail - - RICHARD KAY -

WITH im­pec­ca­bly bad tim­ing, Tory MP Greg Barker’s for­mer lover has spo­ken in some de­tail about the gay af­fair which cost Barker his seat in the Shadow Cab­i­net.

In­te­rior de­signer William Banks-Blaney, 36, has picked the most sen­si­tive mo­ment in the po­lit­i­cal cal­en­dar — Gor­don Brown’s im­mi­nent elec­tion an­nounce­ment — to talk openly about his four-year re­la­tion­ship with the for­mer shadow en­ergy sec­re­tary.

Blaney, now en­gaged to his fu­ture ‘hus­band’, a lawyer, dis­closes how he met the MP for Bexhill and Bat­tle in a Chelsea gym in June 2004. ‘We started dat­ing and, about a week into it, he told me that he wasn’t sin­gle, he was mar­ried, that he wasn’t a prop­erty de­vel­oper, he was a politi­cian and that he had three chil­dren.

‘I ended it im­me­di­ately and two days later he ar­rived at my front door with flow­ers. The fol­low­ing week, a CD was sent to my of­fice. I was very hotly pur­sued and I was very much the one who kept say­ing: “Please try and work on your mar­riage, please seek help.” ’

De­spite this, the af­fair con­tin­ued for four years, the first two in se­cret. Af­ter Barker con­fessed to his wife, Ce­leste, in Au­gust 2006, Blaney was ad­vised to go abroad, first to Turkey then to New York and Africa. And in what will be an em­bar­rass­ment to David Cameron, he says: ‘I was told to stay away, stay hid­den, stay low.’

On his re­turn, he met Mrs Barker and the pair be­came friends. But by early 2007 the gay ro­mance had lost its lus­tre. Ex­plains Blaney, who has re­vealed all to next month’s Tatler mag­a­zine: ‘If you are with some­one who tells you weekly, if not daily, that you are age­ing badly, that you have saggy eyes, that you’re wide-hipped, that you’re no spring chicken, that you need to hone your skills at the din­ner ta­ble, that you could do with los­ing a stone, that there’s ba­si­cally some­thing wrong with ev­ery as­pect of you, you start to be­lieve it, which makes you much more ill-equipped to leave.’

Blaney con­fronted Barker, 44, at the House of Com­mons.

‘I told him what I thought and he seemed to think that now he was “out” and he’d kept his po­si­tion, he was a huge catch and that mil­lions of men would give their right arm to be with him.

‘I told him I thought he’d turned into a bit of a b*****d and he took it as a com­pli­ment.’

Af­ter­wards, Barker, now shadow min­is­ter for the en­vi­ron­ment, found love with a new part­ner — twenty-some­thing polo player Ge­orge Pras­sas. The Bark­ers di­vorced in 2008.

PS WITH all the train de­lays and line clo­sures on the Lon­don Un­der­ground, surely hard-pressed trav­ellers should be warned of an­other haz­ard — the un­her­alded ap­pear­ance of a flus­tered-looking John Prescott. The for­mer Labour Deputy Prime Min­is­ter sur­prised the pro­le­tariat when he was spot­ted run­ning down an es­ca­la­tor at Green Park sta­tion last week. ‘He was hur­ry­ing and all his chins were wob­bling,’ says a fel­low passenger. A woman on the es­ca­la­tor go­ing up in the op­po­site di­rec­tion saw him and shouted: ‘Are you John Prescott?’ The for­mer deputy prime min­is­ter sure­ally shouted back ‘Yes I am!’ be­fore dis­ap­pear­ing down to the Tube plat­form. Maybe he had given up his two Jags for Lent . . .

WITH Prince Charles show­ing hardly any real in­ter­est in the sport of kings — he goes to Royal As­cot on suf­fer­ance but usu­ally shoots off in his As­ton Martin af­ter the Royal pro­ces­sion — who is go­ing to take on the Queen’s large racing op­er­a­tion in years to come?

Step foward Prince Harry. Hav­ing hith­erto shown lit­tle of his grand­mother’s pas­sion for rac- ing, Harry paid a sur­prise visit to New­mar­ket over Easter to meet two of HM’s racing train­ers and watch sev­eral of her horses in action.

Usu­ally, the Queen vis­its Suf­folk at this time of year, but in­stead Harry, ac­com­pa­nied by two body­guards and the monarch’s racing man­ager J ohn War­ren, ar­rived at 6.30am on Satur­day to watch King­dom of Fife, one of eight horses the Queen has with Sir Michael Stoute, work out for a mile on New­mar­ket’s Race - course Side train­ing ground.

Later, he crossed town to watch the Queen’s so f ar un­raced 100,000 guinea pur­chase, Starshine and met Michael Bell, whose has an­other eight of the Queen’s horses in train­ing.

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