We pick the most wrong and unstable Leavers of the week
10. HUGH WHITTOW
The Daily Express editor was forced to remove a poll asking readers which way they would vote in a new referendum from his paper’s website after it began to show a clear majority for Remain.
By the time the article disappeared, Leave was losing by 54% to 46% despite this gentle guidance in the accompanying copy: ‘Since (Brexit) day the viciousness of the Remoaners’ campaign to try and overturn the democratic will of the British people has reached jaw-dropping levels … they claims Brexit-voting Brits would change their mind if given a second chance to vote. We’re not so sure, so that’s why we’ve set up our Brexit Referendum II poll.’
You’d have thought the Express would shy away from this kind of thing, having been forced by press regulatory body Ipso to run a front-page correction in February over a splash headlined ‘98% say no to EU deal’. They said that the headline and opening paragraphs of the article ‘gave the impression that it was reporting the significant results of a representative poll carried out by a third-party for the publication’ in line with the ‘usual practices of political polls’ rather than the actual methodology – a phone poll in which the numbers would have been seen only by Daily Express readers.
Now, like the stumps of Ozymandias, all that remains of Whittow’s wizard wheeze is a 404 page reading ‘Page Missing Mystery!’ – a rubbish attempt at making a 404 page exciting but far better than anything else you will read on Express.co.uk.
9. BORIS JOHNSON
Having finally escaped the Black Lodge, a disoriented Agent Dale Cooper has spent much of the marvellous Twin Peaks reboot stumbling around in an ill-fitting suit, unable to remember things he’d previously said and done. Could the same thing have happened to the foreign secretary?
Surely nothing else could explain his sermon on the cheapening of Westminster discourse, during which Boris proclaimed: ‘The abuse and the name calling, I think all that kind of thing, is slightly turning people off politics.’ This from the man who compared Jeremy Corbyn to a ‘smacked blancmange’ during the election campaign, also calling him a ‘mutton-headed mugwump’, ‘monstrous’ and the ‘leader of a sleeper cell of crypto-communists’.
The latest Twin Peaks episode featured a sinister bumpkin seizing control of a local radio station and repeating the phrase: ‘This is the water and this is the well. Drink full and descend. The horse is the white of the eyes and dark within.’ This broadcast made far more sense than Johnson’s celebrated radio car-crash with Eddie Mair which John Prescott called ‘THE worst interview by a politician EVER’ (and, frankly, he should know). Will Boris ever wake up and smell the damn fine coffee? Don’t count on it.
8. HARRY HALL
Taking time out from the important task of blasting away at his own feet with a shotgun, the fruit farm owner from Surrey told Radio 4’s Today programme that he’d voted Leave without realising it would wreck the firm which his family have owned for half a century. Hall, a key supplier to Waitrose, said he relied on EU workers to pick his crops and explained: ‘If I don’t have my 2,500 staff that I need, or I have no certainty of that from 2019 onwards, I don’t have a business. It’s as simple as that.’
He added: ‘I regret my vote in the face of the government I’m given. The reason I voted to leave was that I’m in favour of sovereignty.’ Alas it will cost him more than a few sovereigns to get it.
7. VICTORIA AYLING
UKIP’s former tourism spokesperson has packed her bags and left the party ‘to pursue other interests’. Perhaps these will include her war to save our bacon. Last year she declared that the great British bacon butty was about to be taxed out of existence because ‘the elite’ considered it ‘insensitive’ – presumably to Muslims, but since all this was taking place in Ayling’s head we can’t be sure.
While we count the hours before Theresa May introduces this legislation, let’s reflect on the fact that in 2013 Victoria was filmed calling for immigrants to be repatriated, saying, ‘I just want to send the lot back but I can’t say it’. Now she has sent herself back to well-deserved obscurity.
6. PETER HARRIS
The Butlins owner has been given a record fine by the Electoral Commission after missing a deadline to deliver details of the £420,000 he spent on adverts in the final week of the referendum urging Daily Mail and Sun readers to vote Leave. These featured a photo of a bulldog with slogans about how Britain could be top dog if it left the barking EU, suggesting that they had been designed by a half-bright primary school child, or perhaps Nigel Farage.
While it’s tempting to wonder just how good at business Harris must be to spend nearly half a million pounds advising readers of the most rabidly pro-Brexit papers to vote for Brexit, we have other questions too. Like: ‘Just what could have driven the owner of three British holiday camps, 38 British caravan parks and 13 British hotels to have advised people to vote for something which would make foreign holidays more difficult and expensive?’
5. DAVID COBURN
UKIP’s Scottish leader and wannabee replacement for Paul Nuttall kicked off his campaign to become captain of the Titanic in style by tweeting ‘Uk successive goats have been weak and cowardly we have lost faith in the major parties’.
Quite brilliantly, Coburn appeared not to notice he had mistyped ‘govts’ and carried on with his rantings in the face of replies including ‘you get my goat’, ‘off you trot, lad’ and ‘I huvnae goat a clue whit yer oan aboot’.
4. ANDREA LEADSOM
The leader of the house chided Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis for not being patriotic enough, although she stopped short of adding, ‘it’s probably because you’re not a mum like me’.
No doubt Leadsom’s decade in Barclays’ investment banking team was spent persuading clients to hand over even more cash to the British taxman to prop up the economy. And the tax she saved in 2005 when she handed shares in her husband’s property company to her children had almost certainly been spent on Union Jack bunting and photos of the old Queen Mum.
3. JOHN EOIN
A more successful Robert Miller, Mr Eoin had the same letter printed in both the Daily Record and the Cambridge News. Here it is in all its glory: ‘It’s time the government indicated how they intend to proceed with imperial measures to allow traders to sell apples by the pound and petrol by the gallon. For many of us, getting rid of compulsory metrication was the main reason for voting to leave the EU. It would be a disgrace if the metric fetishists in the civil service were allowed to obstruct this aim, leaving us with only the negative aspects of Brexit.’
Translation: Yeah, I know about rising prices, job losses and the NHS crashing without foreign workers but if I can’t order pears by the hundredweight I’m going to be REALLY pissed off.
2. GISELA STUART
The former Labour MP for Edgbaston has described the referendum as ‘an abuse of democratic process’ based on a ‘vacuous question’. A shame she didn’t mention this at the time, when it might have got a bit of publicity given her position as co-chair of Vote Leave.
Instead Gisela was happy to ride the big red lie bus all the way to Brexitland. In April 2016 she wrote ‘We should give our struggling NHS the £350m we send to the EU every week’ – a claim since described by Nigel Farage as ‘false’, ‘a mistake’ and ‘untrue’. Talk about abuses of democratic process!
1. NIGEL FARAGE
Who scheduled Stormzy and Solange at exactly the same time? Which band is Michael Eavis prepared to drop the scheduled fallow year for if they choose to reform? Why don’t Radiohead start with the encore? These, you might have thought, were the key questions from Glastonbury 2017.
But for aptly-initialled frogman Nigel Farage, there was only one big one, which he tweeted just after taking in a banging set from Thundercat on the iPlayer: ‘Why should we pay the BBC license fee so they can promote Jeremy Corbyn?’
A good question, though not quite as good as, ‘Why should we pay the BBC license fee so they can put Nigel Farage on Question Time over 30 times?’