Eddie Izzard’s Remain spending spree

Although Eddie Izzard’s kiss of death is famous throughout Westminster, the comedian-turned-campaigner still manages to bag prominent positions in losing campaigns. Take for example the EU referendum. Izzard was hired by the Remain camp to valiantly tour the country preaching to the youth of today about the positives of the European Union. While his words failed to have the desired effect on polling day, they also cost him personally. Figures from the Electoral Commission today show that Izzard splashed £36,229 on his work for the Remain campaign. This included an impressive £127.95 on Nando’s and £260.46 at Wetherspoons. Given that Wetherspoons was known as the Brexit-backing pub, Izzard inadvertently managed to help the Leave vote.

Brexit-bashers like Blair and Branson are the real enemies of the people

Here’s a tip for judges, businessmen, peers, politicians and former PMs who don’t like being called ‘enemies of the people’: stop behaving like enemies of the people. This week it is reported that Tony Blair is polishing his toothy grin to make a comeback into British politics, potentially as thwarter, or just tamer, of the ‘catastrophe’ of Brexit. It’s also reported that Richard Branson, the Brexit-bashing billionaire, has offered ‘tens of thousands’ of pounds to a gang of the great and good who want either to reverse the result of the referendum in which us dumb plebs made such a grave error, or at least insist that a second referendum be

Why doesn’t the Guardian’s fevered hate crime coverage mention Christian victims?

One searches in vain on the Guardian website for the name Nissar Hussain. This is odd because the newspaper seems to have spent the past few months engaged in a campaign against hate. Virtually every day there is a column or leader grimly claiming that the vote for Brexit has unleashed a spate of hate. Its archives brim with news stories trying to infer a causal link between Brexit and a reported rise in hate crime – even to the point of absurdity. Last month, the paper carried a story claiming that there had been a 147 per cent rise in homophobic attacks since Brexit. Given that homosexuality didn’t feature

Let’s shut out this angry, unrepresentative mob

If you’re aiming to refute the suggestion that you can’t comprehend the difference between mob rule and the rule of law, then I suspect it’s probably a bad idea to raise a mob and lead it marching on a law court. Just my little hunch. Yet here come Nigel Farage and his piggybank Arron (Piggy) Banks with a plan to do just that. When the Supreme Court meets next month, the chaps behind Leave.EU aim to lead a march of 100,000 people to Parliament Square, to remind the chaps in wigs what Britain jolly well voted for. As if that had anything to do with anything at all. So far,

The unhinged backlash to the High Court’s Brexit ruling

As a general rule, any day the government loses in court is a good day. So yesterday was an especially fine day. A delicious one, too, obviously, in as much as the fist-clenched, foot-stamping, whining of so many Brexiteers was so overblown and ludicrous it toppled into hilarity. People who shouted for months about the urgent need to restore parliamentary sovereignty now reacted in horror to the restoration of parliamentary sovereignty. ‘That’s not what we meant’, they spluttered. We meant governmental supremacy only when it suits us. Well, tough. A certain amount of squealing was only to be expected since, if Nigel Farage has taught us anything, it is that the Brexit-minded

Diary – 20 October 2016

The week began badly when I spotted three grey squirrels gathering beechnuts in our arboretum. During our time at our home in Northamptonshire, my wife and I have anguished over our reluctance to indulge in wanton killing — and how far our tolerance of damage to the trees and nesting birds will stretch. But two years ago, we resolved the dilemma when squirrels wrecked our 30 nesting boxes. They had gnawed into the entrance holes before destroying the eggs and chicks. We employed two expert keepers who, in nine months, shot or trapped more than 400 squirrels over the 70-acre area. The increase in young birds the following summer has made

Victory of the swashbucklers

On 14 June, a short email popped up in the inboxes of all Financial Times editorial staff. It came from the paper’s style guru and announced tersely: ‘The out campaigners should be Brexiters, not Brexiteers.’ As usual for the FT’s style pronouncements, the memo did not lay out the reasoning behind the decision, but it followed a discussion among editors over whether the word ‘Brexiteer’ had connotations of swashbuckling adventure. Much has been said and written about the power of the Leave campaign’s simple and disciplined messaging. Both sides agree that the Remain camp never found a slogan with the clarity and muscular appeal of ‘Take Back Control’ — a

Imagine there’s no countries… and therefore no museums

I’m not a great optimist about the whole Brexit thing, although my colleagues would mostly disagree. It’s as if we were expecting a storm and we’re now cheering because it’s gone quiet. Strangely, eerily quiet. Anyway, like with climate change, I hope I’m wrong, and whenever I have my doubts about the whole thing, I think about the ‘Remain’ protests led by Eddie Izzard. Let’s hope these obviously counter-productive demonstrations continue for the next five years. However, one disaster that doesn’t seem to have materialised yet is the warning that Brexit would lead to a brain drain. One guy in the Guardian, called Mr Imhof, says he’s going, which is a shame, as

David Lammy takes centre stage at the debate against democracy

In the EU referendum, Brexit triumphed after 17 million people plumped for Leave while 16 million voted for Remain. This act of democracy was not enough to satisfy some, however, with four million people subsequently signing a petition calling for a second referendum. As a result, a number of MPs spent their first day back from recess debating the motion. While David Davis set out the agenda for Brexit in the Chamber, the SNP’s Ian Blackford opened the debate in Westminster Hall. He said that the government’s ‘irresponsible’ behaviour was evident by the fact that all the public have been told is that ‘Brexit means Brexit’. So, what should Brexit mean? Blackford appeared to imply that it means breakfast.

Eddie Izzard parts ways with his pink beret

During the EU referendum campaign, Eddie Izzard toured the country wearing a pink beret in a bid to convince young people to vote Remain. Alas his efforts failed to have the desired effect, with the Leave result only adding to his growing list of doomed campaigns. While Izzard’s kiss of death has since gone on to lose him another election — failing to win a place on Labour’s NEC last month — he appears not to be put off. This weekend the cross-dressing comedian turned activist took part in the March for Europe where die hard Remain-ers — seemingly unswayed by the referendum result — took to the streets to call for the triggering

Osborne’s gone. So why’s Carney still around?

Did you see that odd photo of George Osborne looking shifty, queuing up in the Vietnamese jungle for the chance to fire an M60 machine gun? I found it interesting for a number of reasons. One, obviously, is that it’s probably the first time in five years Osborne hasn’t been pictured wearing a hard hat and goggles. Another is what it tells us about his earnings prospects on the US speaker tour circuit: those guns can fire up to 650 rounds a minute — so at the local tourist rate of £1 a bullet that’s quite an expensive cheap thrill. Mainly, though, what struck me about that snap was just

Letters | 4 August 2016

Remain calm Sir: I am sorry that the redoubtable Martha Lane Fox is still angry at the exaggerations made by the Leave campaign (Letters, 30 July). I expect that the 17 million people who voted to leave are also still pretty angry at the exaggerated claims of Remainers. House price crashes, everyone £4,500 a year worse off, a revenge budget and even a third world war. And of course, the threats from elite corporatists. Vested interests, perhaps? It’s interesting to see how many of the big corporations that  threatened Armageddon prior to the vote are now voting with their money to stay. The investment adviser Tim Price says he has

Cameron’s ‘gongs for chums’ list sparks fury. But don’t expect Theresa May to block it

His time in No.10 might have come to an end last month but it’s David Cameron who is on the front pages of several newspapers this morning. The former PM’s resignation list of honours has sparked outrage since it was published by the Sunday Times yesterday. And today the fallout shows no sign of dampening down. Many of the usual suspects have attacked Cameron but what’s interesting about the criticism is its unanimity. Labour MP Tom Watson said it was ‘cronyism, pure and simple’; and many Tory MPs seem to agree. Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen said those who were going to be rewarded were the ‘people who brought politics into disrepute’.

Sophocles vs the luvvie Remainers

Is the Labour leadership hopeful Owen Smith, who longs to reverse the obviously undemocratic outcome of the recent referendum, aware of the company he is keeping — artists, writers, pop singers and other riffraff? Plutarch would not have rated these know-alls as especially useful allies. Plutarch (c. AD 100) mused on whether classical Athens gained its reputation more from its military or cultural achievements. He agreed that Athens was the ‘mother and well-disposed nurse’ of many arts, inventing some and burnishing others. But it was all a matter of priorities. Take historians and painters: since they lifted their subject matter from military leaders’ famous victories, they had little to add.

Never gonna give EU up

June the 24th was a grim morning for Remain voters, and we’ve been working through the seven stages of grief ever since. Given that nobody has the faintest idea when, how or even if the UK will actually leave, acceptance is still some way off. But Remainers are a pragmatic bunch and many have now worked out that their own personal Brexit can be deftly avoided by taking another EU nationality. Likewise, UK citizens living in the EU, who have found to their horror that they are pawns in a very complex game of migrant chess between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker, are concluding that now is a wise moment

Brexit won the battle. But now we’ve lost the war

When Jonathan Swift wanted to mock the immeasurable superficiality of British politics, he imagined it as a contest between the Big–Endians and the Little-Endians. That is, between those who believed fervently that the only way to open a boiled egg is at the pointier end; and those certain that the only proper way to attack it was from the larger, more rounded end. But that was in the 1720s and Swift was joking. Not in his most extravagantly cynical fantasies, I dare venture, could our greatest satirist have conceived that 300 years on a British prime minister would be chosen on the basis of the following question: ‘Do you think

Is a new political party for Remainers really the way forward?

Shocked Remainers want a new political party — pro-European, ‘pro-business’ and free of any viscerally right- or left-wing taint. They anxiously insist that it will not be like the SDP in the early 1980s, but it is hard to see why not. Both then and now, the appeal is to a particular idea of virtue in politics. Then as now, the new party defines itself by its distaste for people it sees as unvirtuous and lower-class. Then as now, it therefore lacks roots outside bits of London, university towns, and the well-off and well-educated. Above all — then as now — the new party underestimates the capacity of the Tory

Letters | 7 July 2016

Junior elitists Sir: In response to Andrew Peters’s reminder that in many cultures it is the older and more experienced whose views are respected, I am stunned by the social media tsunami of self-regard shown by so many apparently well-educated young people in the wake of what they see as an adverse referendum result (Letters, 2 July). I have heard many of them vehemently expressing a sense of betrayal by their elders and, not a few times, by those less educated than themselves. Do they not realise that they are already sounding like junior members of the self-serving, self-appointed elite, the very people whose blinkered arrogance led directly to Brexit’s

Low life | 7 July 2016

I walked into the bar and there was Trev standing in front of a giant screen showing Germany v. Italy and chatting up two overawed teenage girls with his usual aplomb and startling frankness. Pleased to see me after all this time, he dismissed them with a kind word and we went to the bar to start drinking. He had voted to leave, he said. Then his cousin Danny came in with Tina, Danny’s latest, with whom he is head-over-heels in love. Danny falling in love with someone has been a big shock to the local community, and it was indeed sad to see him so abjectly enamoured with my

Hugo Rifkind

A sad new British status symbol: the second passport in the bedside drawer

I suppose I could probably get a Polish passport. Both of my maternal grandparents were Poles, displaced by war and Holocaust. Neither ever went back, because neither had anything to go back for. So a passport is the least they could do. The buggers owe me a house. There’s Lithuania on the other side, but that would probably be a bit of a stretch because it’s been over a century. A German passport might be doable, though, through my considerably, if not entirely, German wife. I daresay they’d let me tag along. Ja. Danke. Or a Scottish one, should the time come. When the time comes. Choices,-choices, choices. This is