Meet Somaliland’s unlikely hero… Gavin Williamson

Gavin Williamson has been attracting envious glances on the Tory backbenches after he was hailed as a hero on a visit to Somaliland last weekend.

The former education secretary has won enthusiastic support in Somaliland for championing its long-running campaign for recognition as an independent state by the UK. A video posted on Twitter by Mubarak Taani, secretary general in the Office of the President of Somaliland, showed Williamson and other MPs being mobbed in the street by locals in the capital Hargeisa. Taani spoke of an “exuberant welcome” for Williamson and other MPs including former Welsh secretary Alun Cairns and thanked them for their “heroic support” for the campaign.

Statues for the MPs in Somaliland cannot be far behind.

Parliament’s gruesome twosome

MPs have nicknamed government chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris and his deputy Chris Pincher “Mr Kidd” and “Mr Wint” after the two assassins in James Bond’s Diamonds Are Forever.

The pair (of assassins, that is) murder their rivals in outlandish ways (a scorpion down the shirt of a South African dentist, a time bomb to blow up a helicopter) while finishing each other’s sentences, menacingly. In one scene Mr Kidd begins, “If God had wanted man to fly …” to which Mr Wint concludes: “He would have given him wings, Mr Kidd.”

Rebellious backbenchers will have to hope Heaton-Harris and Pincher don’t get too many ideas.

Boris needs looking after

Is Boris Johnson getting his five a day? One Cabinet minister has apparently been bringing in some food and snacks to ensure the PM was eating properly during the working day. One concerned Tory MP told me: “Who is looking after him? He nearly died of Covid. There is no cook there. He can’t pop to the shops to get a sandwich.”

The longer term solution is to appoint an aide to look after Johnson’s day to day needs, like Cynthia Crawford, Margaret Thatcher’s personal assistant. The MP adds: “He needs a Crawfie.”

Enough of the selfie obsession

Joanna Lumley has told how she burst into tears at her shock receiving a letter offering her a Damehood. “It looked as though it had come from the driving licence place,” she said. Lumley, who was speaking to my colleague Camilla Tominey at a Telegraph online event, also had some advice for the “selfie generation”.

“People have now got used to looking in, and trying to find themselves and look inwards. This way lies unhappiness. You have got to look out, the world is packed with glories.

“The more you look into yourself, the unhappier you will be. We have got to pass it on to our young: stop looking inwards. They are going to get bored of all this selfie business.”

I certainly hope so.

Who’s that back on the road?

With 80-year-old Paul McCartney set to become the oldest ever performer at Glastonbury this summer, another ageing rocker has been (carefully) getting ready to go back on the road.

The Who’s guitarist Pete Townshend, 76, tells Rolling Stone magazine how he has been patched up with new hearing aids and lenses in his eyes “when I started to get cataracts”.

It’s a far cry from his prime in the 1960s. He says: “I used to be able to kick my right leg over a mic stand without falling over. I was very, very athletic. I spent more time bashing my guitar than playing it.” Nowadays Townshend tends to “walk a bit” while his main “hobby of choice is sailing”. Sounds just like the rest of His Generation.

A theme is emerging

Thanks for all of your suggestions for a 21st-century version of the patriotic UK Theme which woke bleary-eyed listeners at dawn on Radio 4 until 2006. Suggestions included Mustn’t grumble by Chas ‘n’ Dave, Monty Python’s Philosophers’ Song and the Captain Pugwash theme tune. Tory MP Penny Mordaunt, who is leading the calls for the UK Theme’s return, approves of the “keep calm and carry on” sentiment in our readers’ suggestions. “I always knew they were a stoic bunch,” she tells me.

One reader, however, issued a word of warning. “If the BBC is choosing the tunes, we are likely to get The Red Flag played daily,” he says.

Peterborough, published every Friday at 7pm, is edited by Christopher Hope, the Telegraph’s chief political correspondent and the author of the daily Chopper’s Politics newsletter. You can reach him at

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