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Sir Simon Rattle fears Brexit has stopped the music

The latest scandals and gossip from Westminster and Fleet Street

Sir Simon Rattle conducts the LSO playing Mahler Symphony No9 at The Usher Hall as part of the Edinburgh International Festival 2018. Photo: Robbie Jack/Corbis via Getty Images

Sir Simon Rattle has made little secret of his abhorrence of Brexit and how “grim” it has made life for everyone in the music industry, but the word went unmentioned in last week’s two-hour BBC Two coverage of his final UK performance as musical director of the London Symphony Orchestra.

“Simon has scarcely drawn breath on this subject in the years since the vote, but word came down from on high that the programme was to steer clear of what were referred to as ‘political questions’,” says my corporation insider. “Watching Katie Derham interview Simon was a masterclass in how to interview someone who is passionate about elephants, who is sitting in a room beside an actual elephant, and not making any mention of said elephant at all.”

A spokesman for Rattle, who has taken German citizenship to become chief conductor of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich, declined to comment, and so did the LSO’s spokesman.

Rattle despairs at the way Brexit has necessitated musicians performing in mainland Europe to obtain visas – hardly, as he has said, a Brexit “bonus” – and admitted it was a “necessity” for him to apply for a German passport to see his wife who is based in the country and to enable him to continue to work freely around the bloc.

Derham’s guest on the BBC Two special was Dame Sheila Hancock, herself noted for an emotional televised appeal for the UK to remain a part of the EU before the referendum in 2016, but the B-word didn’t come up in her conversation with Derham either.

At the end of the programme, Derham didn’t even say where Rattle was heading, simply wishing him all the best as he headed off to “pastures new.” Derham’s husband is John Vincent, the co-founder of the Leon restaurant chain who went on Newsnight in 2018 to say he didn’t believe Brexit had affected his sector – “it is used as an excuse, I don’t believe it has”.

London once had a reasonable claim to be at the heart of musical Europe, but Rattle’s departure is symbolic of a golden era coming to an end for the capital. Esa-Pekka Salonen is also leaving the London Philharmonia and Vladimir Jurowski its Philharmonic.

Lady Luck may have chosen not to have put a peerage the way of Paul Dacre – nor even the chairmanship of the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom – but she’s seen to it the state looks after the Daily Mail grandee in other ways.

The latest figures for Langwell, his 17,000-acre Scottish estate north of Ullapool, show he was allocated £250,000 in rural subsidies from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The grants, across 2021 and 2022, include £152,696 from the “basic payment scheme”, and, while the Mail may long have been sceptical about action on climate change, £70,875 for “greening”, as well as £18,338 for “investment in forest area development and viability”, and a further £11,278 to help with “areas facing natural constraints”.

The holiday lets side of Dacre’s Langwell operation could well become a nice little earner. Langwell Lodge is suitable for up to 14 paying guests with a cook, and Glen Cottage in the grounds is available for hire for as much as £4,650 per week, with Christmas and New Year pricing available on application.

On top of the subsidies and the holiday lets, Dacre is still earning money from green energy. He picked up another six-figure profit at the Canaird River Company, which runs a hydro-electric scheme at Langwell. Canaird, set up in 2013 and 40% owned by the Langwell Estate Family Partnership, has accumulated £3m in lifetime profits, including £571,660 last year. Compensation, perhaps, for all those generous EU subsidies Dacre can no longer claim on the estate.

The fallout for Daniel Korski from his vainglorious bid to become the Tory candidate in next year’s London mayoral election continues. With three more women making allegations against Korski after the TV producer Daisy Goodwin’s initial claim that he groped her, he has now stepped down from the board of the advisory business Public Group International.

Despite securing work with the Department for Business and Trade, the NHS, the Department for Digital, Culture Media & Sport, the MOD and Ministry of Justice, Public is still burdened with £2.4m in trading losses, according to its latest accounts.

Korski, once a special adviser to David Cameron, coyly notes on LinkedIn: “After a summer away with my family, I’ve come back to London and decided to step down as CEO of Public and hand over to my brilliant partner, Alexander de Carvalho.” His profile now states ominously that he is “looking for the next adventure”.

With the former ITN journalist Amber de Botton quitting as Rishi Sunak’s communications chief last week, there seems to be a sense of fatalism in the No 10 bunker as the outgoing prime minister’s personal approval rating slips to minus 25% in the latest Observer/Opinium survey.

Mandrake hears that even Isaac Levido – supposedly the mastermind of Sunak’s election strategy – has quietly set up a new private company, Congewai Investments, which is coy about what its purpose is and is based in Northamptonshire, miles from the hubbub of Westminster. Levido’s communications outfit, Fleetwood Strategy, which he co-founded in 2020, is meanwhile doing rather well – notching up £2.3m in profits in two years. “Everyone around Sunak – maybe even Sunak himself – is now in post-Sunak mode,” whispers my Downing Street mole.

“Britain feels like an absolute shambles, a basket case. Almost nothing works any more, and it hasn’t done so for a while now. All around us, the social and physical infrastructure that once held this country together is crumbling. You name it: our roads are rubbish, our rivers are polluted…”

This is precisely the kind of epic “remoaning” that Sarah Vine, the Daily Mail’s high priestess of Brexit, used to decry as unpatriotic, but these are Vine’s own words, written in her own newspaper. They were widely mocked across social media and can hardly have endeared Vine to her proprietor, Lord Rothermere, who is keen to get his paper accentuating the positives ahead of the election.

Ironically, her reference to rivers came just as her former husband, Michael Gove, declared that the media was “awash with lies, half-truths and misconceptions” about “sewage overflows and water privatisation”.

My mole at the Mail says Vine’s motivation in writing the piece wasn’t to rock the boat for the Tories, but to get even with British Airways, which had had the temerity to cancel a return flight she was due to take with the airline from Marseilles: “Sarah wanted to turn the experience into a lead for her column, and the only way to do it was in the context of a general whinge about everything and it all just got out of hand, really.”

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