IT’S been a long and bumpy two-and-a-half-years since the Brexit referendum. Squinter’s been running his eye over the top-performing personalities as we hurtle towards the ration book, conscription, petrol riots and raffling oranges.
Jacob Rees Mogg’s rocky road to Dublin
Arch remainer Lord Snooty has made a fortune from providing financial services through his company, Somerset Capital Management (SMG). Though (because?) he will be luxuriously insulated from the worst effects of a no-deal Brexit even if he never worked another day in his life, he is a leading light in the fanatically anti-EU European Research Group (ERG), which makes UKIP look like the Alliance Party and which sees a Brexit crash-out as pretty much an ideal scenario. But as the Brexit negotiations descended into chaos and then high comedy, SMG decided that it was time to open two new funds in, ah, Ireland. Although Jacob is a co-founder of the company and is paid £14,000 a month for doing eight hours work a week for the company (on top of his MP duties), he said the decision to set up business in Ireland (which is remaining in the EU, funnily enough) was nothing to do with him. As if that’s not bad enough, the company’s prospectus for the coming financial identifies among the key ‘risks’ facing the business in the coming financial year is ‘Brexit’. Simply spiffing, old bean.
Boris and his zig-zag Brexit
Back in 2016 when Boris Johnson was still considering what outcome in the Brexit referendum would be best for him – sorry, for the country – his close pal Sir Nicholas Soames (a Tory hero by dint of being Winston Churchill’s grandson) tweeted this: “Whatever my great friend Boris decides to do I know that he is NOT an outer.” But regardless of where his heart and/or his head is, Boris is certainly shoulder-to-shoulder with Jacob in the vanguard of the hard Brexit storm troops. ’Twas not always thus, truth to tell. Pre-referendum Boris famously came out for Brexit in his Daily Telegraph column. But what people didn’t know until some time later was that Boris had written two columns that week for the Telegraph: one pro-Brexit and one pro-Remain. In the pro-Remain column, which was never published in the paper, he wrote: “Shut your eyes. Hold your breath. Think of Britain. Think of the rest of the EU. Think of the future. Think of the desire of your children and your grandchildren to live and work in other European countries; to sell things there, to make friends and perhaps to find partners there.” Cue soaring violins. Boris’s most recent comment on the single market was that it is “useless” In 2013 he said in Paris: “Personally, I would like to stay in the single market. We need to stay in the council of ministers of the internal market. In my view, the British have done good things for Europe.” Google Boris’s stunned reaction when the referendum vote was announced and then remember what Nick Soames tweeted.
Nigel glad to be rid of the EU (kind of)
Former UKIP leader and Brexit poster boy Nigel Farage has two children by his German wife, Kirsten Mehr. He has told journalists that both of them support England at the football, so that’s alright then. Except they both have German passports and so, thrillingly, unlike their English neighbours, will continue to enjoy free movement throughout the EU post-Brexit. And, of course, Nigel will continue to draw his £73,000 per year EU pension – no-one hates the EU that much, not even our Nige. Squinter was particularly moved by Nigel’s claim in the weeks leading up to the referendum that staying in Europe would “spell the end of the steel industry in this country”. But Nige and his UKIP colleagues were in 2014 among a tiny number of MEPs to vote against a move to tighten up rules on the import of cheap non-EU steel. Business, as they say, is business.
The Man from the Daily Mail
Former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre was the man responsible for all those headlines that frightened the horses during the referendum campaign and, subsequently, the attacks on Parliament and the judiciary as the political and legal implications were fought out. So he’s the Brexiter’s Brexiter. But it’s estimated that as a landowner Dacre benefited to the tune of around £100,000 a year in EU subsidies. The veteran journalist was on over £2m a year towards the end of his time with the Mail, so he’ll not be begging outside the Red Lion in his local village if the UK leaves the EU. Brexit-voting and Mail-reading Farmer Browns, however, may be left sucking thoughtfully on a wheat stalk as they contemplate their own looming subsidy deficit, which may not be so lightly borne.
Bordering on the ridiculous
The DUP’s singular focus as we hurtle towards Brexit D-Day is to block any deal that involves regulatory divergence with the mother ship – in other words: we must be treated exactly the same as Britain by the EU. Whether that’s a gentle wave goodbye with best wishes, or a massive, eye-watering boot in the ging-gangs matters not. We’re all in this together (even if – whisper it gently – Are Wee Country voted to remain). The DUP’s insistence on alignment with the ‘mainland’ may be extremely touching, but it is an entirely new concept, for this little corner of empire long ago gave up any pretence of a claim to be as British as Finchley. Presumably, the party will continue to lobby for a different VAT and Passenger Duty regime post-Brexit, for they were white-hot on those ideas before the EU balloon went up. They’ll continue to block defamation law reform, keeping loyal Ulster as a magnet for libel tourists (so hard to understand, given that the party is so noted for its insistence on keeping well away from inflammatory and dangerous language). Most famously, the DUP remains the bulwark against the equal marriage and abortion rights that are accorded to every other part of these two islands. Luckily, the party stood firm and insisted that Are Wee Country has to have exactly the same RHI regime as across the water, avoiding the possibility of widespread and catastrophically expensive abuse of the boiler scheme
*Sub-editors: please check this last line for accuracy. Thanks, Squint
Andrew Bridgen, Tory MP for West Leicestershire (the home of Walkers crisps, Kasabian and ‘Elephant Man’ John Merrick) is another European Research Group charmer, without the profile of Jacob Rees Mogg but with the same level of warmth and likeability. Andy’s most notable brush with fame before Brexit thrust him into the public eye alongside Boris and Jacob was his posting of a raunchy video on a WhatsApp group composed of Tory MPs, some of them ministers. Suffice to say that the video included a scantily clad woman, a man and a sports car. A suitably repentant Andy explained to colleagues that it had been a terrible error caused by “fat fingers”. In October past he said in a radio interview that all English people are entitled to an Irish passport, a claim that nearly caused Twitter to explode and was the impetus for more jokes than Ian Paisley’s summer holidays. In response to a question on free movement between Britain and Ireland post-Brexit, Andy said: “As an English person, I do have the right to go over to Ireland and I believe that I can ask for a passport. Can’t I?” No, Andy, mate, you can’t. We’ve enough West Brits on this island, ta very much.
Doctor Jekyll and Mr Snide
That Michael Gove’s a reasonable bloke, ain’t he? There he’s been for the past few months, urging cool heads and common sense, quietly and assiduously working to help Prime Minister Theresa may with a withdrawal agreement that’s harder to sell than a Northern Ireland shirt in O’Neills. While those nasty Brexit nutjobs in the ERG snarl and threaten, Michael’s been a model of loyalty and stiff upper-lipped British discretion. But wait. Wasn’t it a bloke who looked exactly like him who said during the campaign that Turkey was about to join the EU, opening the gates to allow five million-plus Turks to come cascading into the UK. (Presses imaginary earpiece to ear, nods head.) Yes, indeed: it was Michael Gove who made that claim. He has subsequently admitted that it was baloney and should not have been made. So them Turks stay in the mess they’re in. And so do we.