Harper's bizzare: The Tory leadership launch that started with a lie and ended with a lion

Written by Total Politics on 11 June 2019 in Diary

The Tory leadership races had its daily dose of insanity as Mark Harper discussed a rumble in the jungle...

Former chief whip Mark Harper made a bold start to his bid to become the next Tory party leader this morning by telling fibs to a group of journalists.

In an embargoed press release ahead of the event, Mr Harper revealed he was going to start his 800-word scripted speech with the claim: "Now this isn't going to be that scripted.

"Lecterns have been banned...it might be a bit rough and ready - but it'll be me."



After the initial hiccup, the former minister challenged journalists to "ask him anything", allowing some cheeky hacks the opportunity to stray away from the hot topics of Brexit and coke use.

Reporters took the task extremely seriously as they batted around possible questions to ask the potential next Prime Minister on social media ahead of the launch.

One suggested: "How many gallons of sewage will the Thames Tideway tunnel be able to handle every nine days?"

While another plumped for: "Would he rather fight 1,000 duck-sized horses, or one horse-sized duck?"

It took over an hour before The Mirror's Oliver Milne plucked up the courage to test Mr Harper's willingness, asking him: "Who would win in a fight, a lion or a bear?"

But the Tory hopeful quickly fired back: "Lion or a bear? Okay on the basis that the lion is the symbol of Britain, I'm going to say lion. That's my final answer."

The questioning came after Mr Harper revealed to ConservativeHome that the naughtiest thing he has ever done is breaking his foot while having a drunken boogie with his wife in a Soho bar.

He told the Tory insider website: "It has to be falling off a table while dancing in a Soho bar and breaking my ankle while at my wife's work leaving party.

"I was rumbled when I bumped into a journalist at St Thomas's Hospital A&E (what were the chances) before taking Home Office Questions some days later - complete with a pair of crutches.

"I also had to go to Algeria on a ministerial engagement as Immigration Minister.

"David Cameron, Nick Clegg and the Algerian Minister all thought my mishap was rather amusing.

"Theresa May, regrettably, did not.

"Still, that's certainly naughtier than running through a field of wheat."

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