Londoner’s Diary: Stink over cheese puts hole in Rishi Sunak’s label plan


ISHI SUNAK has been banging the drum for Brexit and celebrating British food and drink producers by encouraging them to sign up to special labels that show they are from a particular area, as with Champagne in France.

But he might want to wait before breaking out the fizz, as there is a cheese drama in his backyard.

Until recently, Swaledale cheese – believed to date back to the 11th century – was made in Sunak’s Yorkshire constituency of Richmond, and won praise around the world. But now, its makers have filed an application to the Government to dissolve their Protected Designation of Origin, the label ministers have said helps “celebrate and protect… our excellent local produce”, as they have been evicted and are having to move out of Richmond .

They said: “Production of Swaledale Cheese has moved from Swaledale due to eviction notice being served on the company by the landlord… Swaledale Cheese company are (and always have been) the only producers of Swaledale Cheese. The company owns the brand Swaledale Cheese and wishes to continue supply… without the PDO. ” Very much not the post-Brexit plan.

Film is rewound for a Bay-watch

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BEWARE starting a film without Michael Bay. The US director spoke on stage at the Leicester Square Odeon last night with stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Eiza González and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, ahead of a screening of their film Ambulance. As they trooped out, The Londoner overheard a worried aide whisper “he said not to start without him”. Nonetheless the lights went down and the film began. Five minutes later, it stopped, the lights went up, and presenter Vick Hope told the bemused audience they had started without Bay. The aide was right. Bay took his seat, the film was rewound and began again. Star power.

Three Degrees of cancellation

Super-fan: The Three Degrees played for Prince Charles’ 30th birthday

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THEY once played for Prince Charles at his 30th birthday, but soul-funk group the Three Degrees this week pulled out of two gigs at Pizza Express Live in Holborn. Fans of the group were left bereft after the shows – scheduled for Monday and Tuesday – were called off. The Londoner hears that one of the Degrees came down with Covid. Then again, maybe even the hint of a link between anything with royal pedigree and a Pizza Express is best avoided…

Working for free is no shot in the arm

MICHAEL WHITEHALL, father of comedian Jack, has a keen sense of his own worth. At an event last night at the Palladium with his wife and son he discussed how he turned down a recent high-profile advertising campaign over money. “The first thing I always say is, ‘how much?'”. When the agent said it would be a charity venture, Whitehall put his foot down. “‘No fee, no me’. The man got very cross. ” As well he might – it was a public health campaign for the coronavirus vaccine.

Stars in the digital picture for new gallery

LONDON’S stars got digital last night as Daisy Lowe attended the launch of Europe’s first NFT gallery, Quantus. Also there were Ukrainian pop group Bloom Twins. Across town, musician Anoushka Shankar joined artist Martha Freud, who was hosting a dinner for Sustainability Week at Laylow. Over at the Roundhouse, Adrian Lester performed for their gala, as did Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood and his wife Sally.


Surprise visit: Sarah Olney was chair of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society in King’s College London

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SARAH OLNEY MP invited director Mike Leigh to her student production of Pirates of Penzance in the Nineties and to her shock, he came, with the cast of Topsy-Turvy, the film he was making at the time. Jim Broadbent was among those watching. “I was like, ‘Ah, what are you doing here? Oh my god! ‘”Olney told us. Pressure.

PARLIAMENTARY staff have a habit of making themselves feel at home. Sir Charles Walker, chair of the Commons Administration Committee, told his fellow MPs in a letter: “I learned that passholders are returning to the premises, having missed the last train home after a night out, to sleep in their office.” Oh dear.

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