Widdecombe tested out killer put-down
TORY MP Ann Widdecombe yesterday revealed she had “tested out” her devastating comment that former Tory leader Michael Howard had “something of the night about him” several times before unleashing it in the House of Commons.
Miss Widdecombe’s put-down came after the pair clashed over the sacking of the Prison Service director general Derek Lewis, and was widely credited with destroying former Home Secretary Mr Howard’s hopes of winning the Tory leadership in 1997.
Yesterday, the ex-prisons minister, who is not standing again as an MP, said she prepared the phrase with the intention of damaging her former boss’s prospects and believed it had “possibly” worked in the short term.
In an interview on BBC Radio, Miss Widdecombe, MP for Maidstone and the Weald, was asked if she knew in advance that the phrase was a “humdinger” that would grab the public imagination.
She replied: Yes. I had tested it out. I had this phrase in my head and I tested it out on the permanent secretary at the Home Office at the time.
“Then I tried it on a couple of other people who reacted similarly and I thought ‘Right, I’ve got a phrase that people understand’.”