William Collins pre-empts Alan Duncan's 'explosive' diaries

William Collins pre-empts Alan Duncan's 'explosive' diaries

William Collins has pre-empted the “explosive” diaries of former UK Foreign Minister Sir Alan Duncan, kept while he served in government from 2016 until the end of 2019.

Publishing director Arabella Pike bought UK and Commonwealth rights, including Canada, from Martin Redfern at Northbank Talent Management. In the Thick of It: The Private Diaries of a Minister will be published on 15th April.

Duncan, who deputised for Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Foreign Office and was once described as the then Foreign Secretary's “pooper-scooper”, was at the centre of the Tory Party for 30 years. The publisher said: “Not since Alan Clark have an MP’s diaries offered such a rich personal account of political life. Covering the pressures on a minister and the ructions of a fractured Parliament, In the Thick of It is a unique cocktail of acerbic wit and serious perceptions; it is as insightful as it is entertaining.”

Its synopsis explains: “Duncan’s riotously candid diaries span the four years from the eve of the referendum to the UK’s eventual exit from the EU, covering the fall of two prime ministers, the course of two elections, and Theresa May’s survival of a no-confidence vote. He records a treasure-trove of insider gossip, giving biting and often hilarious accounts of petty rivalries, poor decision-making, big egos and big crises. Across these unfiltered daily entries, Duncan builds a revealing and often profound picture of UK politics and personalities from deep inside the engine room of power. Spiced with withering putdowns of fellow Conservative MPs and ministerial colleagues, and irreverent anecdotes about ambassadors, foreign dignitaries and the glamorous party set in Mustique, the diaries are a rich seam of high politics and low intrigue.”

Duncan commented: “My mantra is ‘always be a happy politician’. A sure protection against fury and frustration is to vent onto the page by writing everything down. That’s how these diaries arose – both for therapy in the moment, and as a lasting insurance against the brain-fade of age. They offered me a fulfilling medium through which to record the dramas of my daily life. To combine being a foreign minister with working closely with Boris Johnson and Theresa May, against a backdrop of a divisive issue and a fractured parliament, proved to be the richest possible stimulus. I hope they are as much a source of entertainment as they are an accurate account of this crucial period in our recent political history.”

The publisher is planning a high profile PR campaign, launching with "an explosive and unmissable" serialisation running over several days in a leading national newspaper.

Pike said: “Alan Duncan’s diaries offer an unrestrained perspective on political personalities from inside government, as May and then Johnson hurtle from Brexit crisis to catastrophe, and back again. But it is much more than tittle-tattle. Important themes run through the diaries, including the frustrations of ministerial life, the complexities of Middle Eastern politics, and concern about the UK’s declining standing in the world. These are diaries which will make a splash and show Duncan to be one of the great political diarists of modern times.”