What a carry-on from London’s luvvies

The celebrities are at odds with half the population.


The London look: she needs to get out more

A country lunch I attended on Sunday was full of gloomy Remainers: my attempts to lighten the mood were not successful. When I suggested to one Tory grandee that we had to look on the bright side he glared at me furiously.

In his case the pessimism was understandable; a multi-million-pound deal he'd been negotiating was about to collapse. Less easy to take was the rage and breast-beating on the Twittisphere. One of my daughters (who didn't vote) was deeply shocked. What was wrong with everyone?

In The Times on Monday, the columnist Libby Purves addressed the same question. It had been "a particularly grim couple of days for a soft-left newsaholic" like her, "with a tenderness for the arts world". Quoting one performing artist's tweet "Ashamed. Terrified. Shocked. Horrified" Purves said that it wasn't the actual vote that shocked her, but the "online squawk" of reaction from cultural icons, colleagues and friends. The "carry-on was beyond parody: anguished bunker-mentality tinged with patronising, generalising hauteur about those who voted Leave".

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

As Purves rightly noted, this nonsense had reached its apogee in the days before the vote in a Sunday Times piece by the TV critic A.A. Gill, 62, who decried fuddy-duddy Britain and concluded that the only people thinking of Brexit were "old, philistine scared gits". The FT carried a piece in the same vein mourning "the lost opportunities, friendships, marriages and experiences we will be denied", just as if, to quote Purves, "nobody ever had a friend before Directive 204/38/EC".

Then came the Twitter barrage: "In shock the blackest of news spent most of yesterday crying, couldn't get out of bed"; "In a hotel room watching this s***t I feel very alone. Texting people I love telling them we'll be OK". A lot of this emanated from the arts world, though before the vote Richard Morrison in The Times, defying the trend, mocked the ridiculous letter from Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley "and 280 only slightly less lovely luvvies" urging us all to go for Remain.

Extraordinarily, Morrison said he hadn't met anyone in the arts who thought differently. This, of course, is partly to do with money: the EU lavishes some £200m of "our dosh" on the arts. But the argument trotted out in luvviedom that we need a diversity of people to maintain a vibrant cultural scene would cut more ice if the arts world showed itself able to understand, even if not agree with, the views of half the population.

Where is our modern-day Orwell, or Priestley, Purves asks: "now it is almost comic to watch the affluent metropolitan left being cross with the zero-hours strugglers of Sunderland for disrespecting the instructions of a Tory PM and big business". Two nights before the vote I dined at a small club in London, a haven for country folk usually regarded as wildly out of touch.

Here, for the first time, I had a glimmering of the truth. A Remain-supporting friend of the PM said his side would lose: the employees on his farm up north would all vote out. The Tory peer next to him brought the same message from Cornwall. If the arts world paid a little more attention to what happens outside London, they might have a better grasp of reality.

Referendum gossip... did the PM know the game was up?

Prime Minister David Cameron "signed a home loan arrangement with HSBC" just eight days before the European Union referendum, says Sam Greenhill in the Daily Mail. Did the PM, despite his apparent confidence, realise "the game was up"? The mortgage covers Cameron's £3.5m Notting Hill townhouse. The Camerons "are unlikely to want to move to their Oxfordshire house because it would disrupt their children's schooling... Nancy, 12, attends a Westminster secondary school a short distance from Downing Street, while their son Elwen, ten, and youngest daughter Florence, five, go to a West London primary school".

And what's in store for Cameron when he leaves Downing Street anyway? Don't feel "too sorry" for him, says Adrian Lee in the Daily Express. While Cameron has privately said that an immediate resignation from parliament would be "a show of disrespect to those who elected him", he is likely to be "inundated with enticing offers from the private sector". The experiences of former prime ministers, including John Major and Tony Blair, show that "the riches available to someone with a deep knowledge of the machinations of British government are bountiful".

Just "a handful" of "well-paid part-time consultancy posts" would "pay handsomely and allow him to spend quality time at home". And he can take comfort in the fact that any book about "his disastrous EU gamble" is certain to be "a sure-fire best-seller".

While the Camerons are pondering their future, the prime minister's sister-in-law has already made her mind up about one issue. According to The Spectator's Steerpike: "Samantha Cameron's sister has taken to Twitter to ask how quickly she can join [Labour], adding that she only ever voted Conservative for David". Of course, "this news doesn't come as a huge surprise". However, it does raise the question of "her sister's voting preference". Indeed, Samantha Cameron's friends have said that she "may have voted Labour in the past". This leads The Spectator to wonder whether "she too will be tempted to vote red now the Brexiteers have won"?