Tim Walker exclusively reveals that Danny Boyle is to direct James Graham’s controversial Brexit drama… and asks is the Daily Mail’s Paul Dacre about to take charge of the Telegraph?
Boyle set to direct Brexit The Movie
Confounding the doubters, Danny Boyle made the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Summer Olympics a national and personal triumph. The great man may face a bigger challenge yet in Brexit.
Mandrake can reveal that Boyle, is being lined up to direct James Graham’s as-yet-untitled drama about the events leading up to the EU referendum.
Boyle is an ardent Remainer, but he would be unwise to count on good reviews from either side. Carole Cadwalladr – the journalist who’s become the scourge of the Brextremists – found herself in agreement last week with Raheem Kassam, Nigel Farage’s former right hand man, when he dismissed Graham’s script as ‘bulls**t’.
Cadwalladr was invited to act as an adviser to Graham, but declined because investigations into some of the protagonists are still unfolding, and, as she says, the story is far from over.
Graham insists the leaked script Cadwalladr and Kassam had seen was a year-old and has since been revised. ‘I wish people would give this a chance,’ he tells me.
Benedict Cumberbatch – who has been signed up to play the Vote Leave boss Dom Cummings – also backed Remain during the referendum. This, incidentally, is not likely to have endeared him to fellow members of the Garrick club, such as Lord Lawson, Sir William Cash and Michael Gove.
Mandrake hears that Paul Dacre harbours an ambition to ‘turn around’ the Daily Telegraph. It would, of course, be easier to raise the Titanic, but the outgoing Daily Mail editor is a mate of Sir David Barclay – who co-owns the broadsheet – and they are both crusaders for Brexit.
The Telegraph’s problems are an ageing and dwindling following and an online brand that hasn’t the international appeal of its old rival the Times. Still, Dacre’s enthusiasm for staying on at Northcliffe House in his editor-in-chief role – but with no power over Geordie Greig, who succeeds him as editor of the Daily Mail – is said to be limited.
The old boy is almost 70, and, if he hasn’t already emotionally checked out of the building, he has begun the process financially. Earlier this month, he sold his remaining 33,000 ordinary shares in Daily Mail and General Trust, trousering £244,200.
The group sees its future now in its internet businesses, such as Mail Online. This was not how Dacre imagined it would turn out. ‘A lot of people say that the internet is the future for newspapers,’ he ebulliently told his staff at a party almost two decades ago. ‘Well, I say to that: bulls**t.com.’
Liam Fox’s International Trade Department has managed to rack up a bill for £2,219 for hospitality from Manchester United. The size of the bill in the latest government spending data is not surprising, but the venue, given that Fox is hardly a regular at Old Trafford, caught my eye.
The department says it was part of a ‘roadshow’ to promote the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement that the European Union has with Canada.
I ask what value the CETA free trade deal between Europe and Canada will have for the UK going forward. ‘Good question,’ its spokesman replies.
By the way, Fox was not present at the jolly – nor even his sports-mad mate Adam Werritty – which is perhaps just as well given the pair’s distaste for all things European.
The astute ITV political correspondent Joe Pike told me months ago that he saw leadership potential in Layla Moran, the Lib Dems’ charismatic 35-year-old education spokeswoman. Over the weekend, the Sunday Times finally got up to speed, saying that Moran is being ‘heavily tipped’ as Sir Vince Cable’s successor. The Times got in on the act on Monday.
‘It’s the silly season,’ laughs Moran, who is staunchly loyal to Sir Vince, when I track her down. ‘The only problem with this supposed ‘plot’ is that none of the papers thought to ask me about it.’