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‘Too hot to handle’ politician’s turn at the First Dates restaurant

PEEPS: Cupid's arrow falls short as former Conservative councillor meets UKIP parliamentary candidates

25 July, 2017 — By Peeps

IT is meant to be the perfect place to find romance, the oo-la-la dinner table which every singleton – no matter their age or background – would love to score a seat at.

But there was to be no love story for “Veronica” at Channel 4’s First Dates restaurant, even if the vivacious, forthright contestant was still insisting that the man she had been matched with was more interested in her than he thought, long after he had politely rebuffed the opportunity for a further rendezvous.

There were a couple of chuckles in there for the viewers of the hit series on Thursday evening, but in Hampstead there were also a few wry smiles among local Tories who instantly recognised the woman who claimed to be “too hot to handle”. For Veronica is good old Veronica Soskin to the party faithful, a former Conservative councillor in neighbouring Barnet, now living in the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency – and never short on opinions.

Veronica Soskin

Maybe the moment where it went wrong on date night was when the conversation naturally came around to politics and her date, Nigel, a historian, said he was a passionate Brexiteer. “I’m passionately Remain,” she retorted, over a carefully ordered steak and chips. “Oh,” said Nigel, with a sad face. Even a cursory Google search reveals him to be Nigel Jones, a former UKIP parliamentary candidate in Sussex.

They both laughed along about how good it is to disagree, before Veronica – who declined to give her age, so it would seem rude to print it here – ramped things up a gear by warning him that she didn’t like whingers.

The denouement of the show – now in its 8th series, and one of Channel 4’s most popular products – is the “would you like to see each other again” moment. Veronica had already said Nigel had not “made her weak at the knees” but that she’d be willing to give it another roll as “it’s impossible to tell on one date”, slightly challenging the premise of the whole show. “A date implies sexual and erotic”, began Nigel. “Does it?,” Veronica jumped in, before Nigel cut in himself, speaking on both of their behalf, to insist that they didn’t really fancy each other.

After he had left, Veronica came up with her suggestion that he had fooled himself into thinking so. For those interested in applying, her search is for a man who is “clued up on world affairs” and has – again to use her words – all their “equipment working”. Veronica was busy at work yesterday, but friends in the Tory party said it had been the best episode of First Dates they’d seen. “It was classic Veronica, we were all in stitches,” said one long-serving member. “It must be a scary thing to do, to go on TV and pour out your life history to someone you’ve never met – while you’ve got a camera in your face. But it wouldn’t have been for Veronica.” Another added: “Maybe she’s right, maybe she is too hot to handle – but there must be someone out there who will love her sense of adventure.”

She left Barnet Council in 1990 after moving for a spell in the United States. Her son, Adam Smith, the television boxing journalist, recalled in his memoir: “I remember it only too well. I had to drive around north London bellowing out ‘Vote Veronica Soskin’ from a megaphone, and hide behind it when passing staunch left-wing neighbourhoods.”

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