Brexit is a divisive topic and the process of doing it will be complicated. But sometimes the solution is worse than the problem. The New York Times has offered readers a chance to “meet with politicians, journalists and historians to discuss Britain’s decision to leave the EU and the financial, legal and social implications”. For the bargain price of only $6,000, the “Brexit means Brexit” tour involves such highlights as “a typical pub lunch and a pint at a local pub frequented by members of parliament”. Afterwards, tour members can “join the queue to attend one of the debates in either the House of Commons or House of Lords”.
Americans interested in taking part should be warned “that the tour is somewhat London-centric”, notes The Spectator’s Steerpike column. Indeed, “over the six days, it seems that the group will remain in the capital for the full duration”. This oversight is understandable. After all, “what New Yorker doesn’t want to come to the capital of the world”? However, “given that London voted to Remain, surely for a proper insight into what Brexit means, the NYT should venture outside the city and go to the areas that voted Leave?”
The New York Times may have underestimated the competition. Twitter users are already suggesting their own versions, reports Ruth Sherlock in The Daily Telegraph. “For $5k per person, I’ll take a group of Americans on a walking tour of the Brexit heartland of Hartlepool,” offered one tweeter. Another was “setting up a rival tour taking in Sunderland, Hartlepool, Dewsbury and East Hull… see the gritty heart of Brexit-land for a mere $2,500.” Budget-conscious Americans may prefer the offer to “rant about Brexit at you while we drink pints at the Red Lion for the frankly bargain price of $2,000”.
If spending $6,000 on a long weekend in London doesn’t appeal, you could consider hiring a “travel designer” to create your own tour of Brexit Britain. These consultants aim to deliver “ornately orchestrated trips that are taking the idea of experiential travel a radical notch higher, into the realm of storytelling writ large” – but at a gigantic price, as Gisela Williams reports in the Financial Times. Williams recently experienced her own bespoke “magical mystery tour”, beginning with a “half therapy, half professional interview” session to determine what she wanted. She was then presented with “a board game in the form of a map of Rajasthan” in place of a conventional itinerary, and sent on her way.
The experience, which included twilight visits to the Mehrangarh Fort in Jaipur and tea with the Prince of Udaipur’s grandson, was “exhilarating”. However, such luxury doesn’t come cheap: “in their complexity, execution and cost, itineraries like mine in India can rival small film productions” and require “dozens or even hundreds of actors”. So it’s no surprise that the clients “are typically royalty or international business leaders for whom the cost of a trip can run into seven figures”. Even her version typically costs £20,000 per person per week, plus an additional £3,500 “planning fee”. For now, I’ll stick with the Red Lion.
Tabloid money… can Robin Hood save us from austerity?
• Economists say that “the Robin Hood tax” – “a tiny tax on bankers” – could raise £4.7bn a year for the NHS, says Ros Wynne-Jones in the Daily Mirror. Already across Europe, transaction taxes are
gaining in popularity. The idea is that they are “likely to help reduce the number of the riskiest trades – the type of ‘casino banking’ that helped trigger the 2008 financial crisis”. They are also “one of the cheapest taxes to collect”, says Wynne-Jones. But, just as importantly, a Robin Hood tax could “radically” change a Britain bankrupted by the banks, and morally bankrupted by years of austerity, providing desperately needed cash for schools, hospitals and social care.
• Two “hefty” divorce settlements took place last week, says Karren Brady in The Sun on Sunday. In one, a businessman was ordered to give 40% of his assets to his wife, which amounted to £73m. In the other, an oil trader, who built up a fortune in Russia, was ordered to pay his ex £453m. “Yes, they are huge amounts, but why do people seem so outraged that the women get close to half the family wealth?” asks Brady. “If they have sacrificed their working life to stay at home and look after the children, that is as valuable as going into an office every day.” “End of.”
• “Julia Roberts plays the most adorably wholesome hooker in the entire history of whoredom in Pretty Woman”, says Jennifer Selway in the Daily Express. So, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that an exact copy of the dress she wore in the film (a top and bottom held together by a couple of metal rings), while “putting out five-times-nightly on Hollywood Boulevard”, is on sale for £136. No, the real mystery is why it hasn’t been copied before, says Selway. The thigh-high PVC boots and blonde wig are not included. “Neither, unfortunately, is Julia’s world-conquering smile.”