STEVE ANGLESEY on if the irrational work of irrational men is down to a diet either smacked out by meat or in the amphetamine grip of a sugar rush?
Pork took an unexpected and unsavoury leading role in the last political biography written by Lord Ashcroft, so it comes as a relief that the foodstuffs in his new book about Jacob Rees-Mogg are enjoyed only orally.
I say “enjoyed”, but perhaps “endured” is closer to the truth. In his dull and silly profile of a dull and silly man, the bard of Belize has dug up nothing to match his pre-referendum porcine hit job on David Cameron. But what the leader of the house puts into his body is only marginally less alarming that what the young Cameron is claimed to have put part of his body into.
There are, as you’d expect, the dietary details which go towards the picture of Rees-Mogg as a lovable eccentric. At Oxford, he confides to a friend that something has “gone wrong” with a loaf of Sunblest – “It had gone green. He’d bought it four weeks before and stored it on top of his radiator.” Unable or rather unwilling to cook, he survives on cheese and Bath Oliver biscuits when no-one is around to wait on him.
On planes, he waves away the in-flight menu and opens up “a delicious set of roast beef sandwiches made by Nanny”. When the Brexiteer Andrew Bridgen comes round for a lads’ night in, after “noticing that Jacob’s got a life-size painting of himself on the stairs of the first landing”, the evening ends when Mrs Rees-Mogg appears “with a school exercise book and took my order for breakfast”.
What is truly striking though is how much Jacob Rees-Mogg’s diet resembles a Private Eye parody of Jacob’s Rees-Mogg’s diet. The great Craig Brown could not have done better.
Of course he “doesn’t eat rice or pasta, preferring beef, lamb or game”. Naturally he “doesn’t like spicy food. You’d go to a curry house and he would have omelette and chips”. It goes without saying that “he only ever ate white bread. Still does”.
And when young Jake daringly decamps to Hong Kong, does he throw himself into the exciting local cuisine? He does not, surviving on bread and butter pudding cooked by his maid.
His sweet tooth is a theme. A former flatmate tells us Rees-Mogg has “sugar on everything, including Frosties”. At Claridge’s, he always orders chocolate soufflé. He has a penchant for Cadbury’s Creme Eggs, stacking up to 60 on his desk at one time.
One wonders whether the effect of all this has had a deleterious effect on the acumen of Rees-Mogg, whose opening rounds as house leader have been as confusing and painful as those suffered by opponents of another famous gourmand, Mike Tyson in his prime. Remember when Jacob reassured us that an exit date of October 31 was unavoidable and there was no earthly way the speaker could do anything about it? How’s that working out for him now?
Worse still, Rees-Mogg’s own carefully cultivated reputation has experienced serious damage, possibly as a result of his intake. Was his petulant and ungentlemanly sniping at a doctor over Operation Yellowhammer the result of a sugar crash? Could a quick and nutritious lunchtime snack of roast beef and all the trimmings, followed by the ever-present chocolate soufflé, have caused sleepy Jake to become horizontal in the Commons during the Benn-Letwin debate, making himself a national laughing stock?
If so, do these kind of diets explain Brexit itself – the irrational work of irrational men who, refusing to heed any modern dietary advice from politically correct ‘experts’, spend their lives either smacked out by meat or in the amphetamine grip of a sugar rush?
Just look at the evidence. According to his expenses, Mark Francois, who resembles a luncheon meat statue of Penfold from Danger Mouse, once survived almost entirely on Peperami and Pringles. The Colonel Blimpish former MEP Roger Helmer has pledged to eat “red meat every day” as part of a ludicrous protest against Greta Thunberg. Nigel Farage dines on stewed cheese and chump chops and said of a meal with Donald Trump, during which the president ordered his steak well-done and smothered in ketchup “he is a regular bloke. Truly. Just a normal chap”.
Finally, while “big girl’s blouse” Jeremy Corbyn names his favourite meal as falafel, hummus and flatbread, Boris Johnson declares his own to be sausage with mustard mash and red wine gravy. So proud of this is the prime minister that on a recent visit to the factory which makes Heck bangers, he draped a sting of sausage links around his neck for the benefit of photographers, rendering them instantly inedible. “It’s like being welcomed to India,” he quipped, suggesting that a diet of processed meat, dense potato and heavy sauces has done nothing to dull his trademark unfunny colonial bantz. But perhaps the shape of post-Brexit meals to come could be witnessed in the Commons during a recent Ken Clarke speech, when Iain Duncan Smith was caught on camera picking his nose, rolling up the snot and popping it in his mouth. Is this what they mean when they say “in the event of no-deal, there will be adequate food for everyone?”
BREXITEERS OF THE WEEK
4. RACHEL WARBY
The prospective Brexit Party candidate for South Northamptonshire has suggested she would beat local food shortages after Brexit by sharing the food she grows in her garden.
Warby until recently operated a hairdressing business near Benidorm and appeared on Channel 4’s A New Life In The Sun, flying back to Britain to vote Leave at the referendum.
She is due to stand against Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom at the next election. Questioned on Twitter about supply threats, she said: “Why would planes of food and medicines stop coming into airports?” Asked if, given her beliefs, “the government suggests there may be rationing would you go to the back of the queue?” Warby replied: “I would share what I grow in my garden.” Let’s hope it’s a very big one.
3. TIM MARTIN
What a coup from the extravagantly-coiffed Wetherspoons chairman when numerous outlets reported he was slashing 20p off the price of a pint to demonstrate how prices will fall when import tariffs go after a no-deal Brexit! There were only a few small problems…
a) Only one beer, Ruddles County, was on offer.
b) It’s brewed in Suffolk and therefore attracts no import tariffs in the first place.
c) Many of Tim’s fellow shareholders in Spoons aren’t exactly chuffed that he’s cutting their profits to make a political point.
d) It does demonstrate that even while Britain is still in his hated EU, Tim can afford to cut 20p off a pint of Ruddles County and still make a tidy sum.
Perhaps that’s why he can’t afford to pay Wetherspoons workers the living wage!
2. MARGARET THATCHER
The late prime minister is about to break her (understandable) silence on Brexit with a “message from spirit world”, according to a Japanese religious group called Happy Science.
They will show a video of Thatcher, who died in 2013, speaking via a medium called Master Ryuho Okawa. The event flyer promises the answer to questions like “What does she think about the current Brexit issue?” and “Was she an angel or a devil?”
An edited version of the footage is already available online and contains ‘Thatcher’ admitting: “I couldn’t understand the EU system and I’ve heard that the EU is falling apart now… the problem is Deutschland, and another problem is the French.”
Not quite “the lady’s not for turning”, but you can’t expect zingers from someone who’s been dead for six years!
1. GEOFF BOYCOTT
Celebrated the knighthood he picked up in Theresa May’s resignation honours by claiming on Radio 4’s Today programme that he voted to leave the EU partly because of his 1997 conviction in France for assaulting his then-girlfriend.
The former cricketer told presenter Martha Kearney: “It was a court case in France where you’re guilty, which is one reason I don’t vote to remain in Europe. You’re guilty until you’re proved innocent.
“It’s the total opposite of when you’re in England, and it’s very difficult to prove you’re innocent in another country in another language.”
Told by Kearney of criticism of the knighthood by the head of a domestic violence charity, Boycott added: “I don’t care a toss about her, love. It was 25 years ago, so you can take your political nature and do what you want to do with it… I couldn’t give a toss.” Talk about batting on a sticky wicket!