The recent publication of Sasha Swire’s uproariously indiscreet and salacious memoir exploded on London’s social scene like a beautifully aimed missile. Diary of an MP’s Wife: Inside and Outside Power is an account of the decade during which the 57-year-old former journalist and her M.P. husband, Hugo Swire, occupied the very heart of the Tory power posse known as the Camerons.

That chumminess all came to an abrupt halt last week. Well, that’s the end of her, announced the Greek chorus baying for her blood. How dare she? How could she? But what of Swire herself? Gone to ground in her Devon farmhouse, it seems, without so much as a squeak.

Swire apparently had no idea what was coming. Indeed, when Sunday Times journalist Decca Aitkenhead asked her during an interview if she was nervous about the reaction to her magnum opus, she feigned total horror. Which is odd, considering she spent 18 years in the thick of Westminster working as her husband’s research assistant. Not to mention the fact that she was nursed almost from birth on the language of politics: her father was Sir John Nott, Margaret Thatcher’s well-regarded defense secretary. Might it not have been obvious that ratting on her social circle was perhaps not the most elegant way to enter her twilight years?

Complex Motives

I called around to test the social temperature. “Of course she did it for money,” says one grande dame from the shires, who remembers Swire once telling her husband, “Hugo, we are completely broke. Can you please hurry up and get another directorship?” While another comments: “She does occasionally rub people up the wrong way, because she doesn’t mince her words. She tells it like it is. But she is enormous fun, and she’s not impressed by anyone.”

The Swires have now gone to ground in their Devon farmhouse.

Swire begins her memoir in 2010, the year David Cameron was elected prime minister and her husband was appointed minister of state for Northern Ireland. It ends in 2019, when Hugo Swire stepped down from politics. The gang she writes about is named after Cameron and his fashion-designer wife, Samantha. It also includes his ambitious Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, and his now ex-wife, the novelist Frances Osborne, as well as various members of their after-school boys’ club, including Cabinet minister Michael Gove and his divisive tabloid-journalist wife, Sarah Vine, and last but certainly not least, our current prime minister, the endlessly entertaining and libidinous buffoon in chief, Boris Johnson.

“Hugo, we are completely broke. Can you please hurry up and get another directorship?”

Of all of those characters, I am told that the Goves, in particular, are the most unlikely to speak to Swire ever again. After all, she does describe Gove as “toxic” and writes that Hugo Swire said of Vine, “That woman clearly needs to be under full and permanent medical supervision.” I ask a Swire intimate what they make of it all. “Sasha has always been hilarious about the Goves,” this person recalls. “I don’t think she ever liked them. I remember her once saying to me, ‘Michael and Sarah always suck up to the most important person in the room. And, anyway, she’s always hated me, so good luck to her.’”

Another tells me: “I know for a fact that the Camerons read the book before publication and weren’t remotely bothered by it.” Which is not that surprising, considering the vitriol directed at Cameron since he set Brexit’s wheels in motion. It also explains why he recently waffled something vague when asked about the book by a journalist. Perhaps he wasn’t keen to revisit the time Swire recalls his saying to her on a walk in Cornwall, “That scent you are wearing is affecting my pheromones. It makes me want to grab you and push you into the bushes and give you one.”

“Look,” another insider tells me, “[Swire]’s not losing any sleep over this. You do develop a thick skin when you are in government.” But then another mentions how a few days after The Times published extracts of the diary, Hugo canceled a weekend holiday. “I got the impression it was something to do with looking after Sasha after the media backlash.” Perhaps it was the surprise unearthing in the Daily Mail two weeks ago—surely a quid pro quo by a disgruntled character—that Hugo once had an affair. I ask one of my sources about this: “That was a long time ago. Sasha knew all about it.”

“So Sexy and So Toxic”

Swire told The Guardian that “outsiders think politics should be very professional. It’s not. It’s totally amateur. That’s why it’s so sexy and so toxic.” Meanwhile, the Financial Times declared the memoir as “refreshing because it focuses on the steam instead of the furnace, but it’s not an account of actual government.”

The book is not strictly about the Camerons—it is crammed with social stories about the Swires’ gallivanting with the rich and famous. There’s much reliving of the parties thrown by billionaires, presented alongside the occasional entertaining observation, such as the time Downtown Abbey creator Julian Fellowes’s turban-wearing wife raised her hand, like in class, when she wished to interrupt her husband.

Diary of an MP’s Wife was never meant to be a political diary to rival the greats. What it does do, perhaps inadvertently, is give a window onto a time when British politics was at its most privileged—public-school accents, polished uniforms, pitch-perfect recitals of a certain dialect picked up over the years, giving the impression of intellect without having to make a cogent or coherent point. Boris Johnson, anyone? As one friend surmises, “Sasha can probably come off as cruel without meaning to. But she’s never been ‘Let’s say the right thing to get on with the right person.’” Maybe she should have chosen a different title. I suggest The Real Housewife of Westminster.

Vassi Chamberlain is a Writer at Large for Air Mail based in London