BREX FACTOR: Heard of the Love Train? Now you can ​join the Leave Train

PUBLISHED: 12:00 16 March 2019

Braunton is among the locomotives operated by the Brexit Express campaigner Jeremy Hosking's Locomotive Services Ltd. Picture: PA/Ben Birchall

Braunton is among the locomotives operated by the Brexit Express campaigner Jeremy Hosking's Locomotive Services Ltd. Picture: PA/Ben Birchall

PA Archive/PA Images

All aboard the Leave train as the Daily Express and Esther McVey are name-checked in STEVE ANGLESEY'S Brex Factor.

Former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey speaking at a Leave Means Leave rally at Central Hall in London. Picture: PA/Kirsty O'ConnorFormer Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey speaking at a Leave Means Leave rally at Central Hall in London. Picture: PA/Kirsty O'Connor

Voters who chose Leave in order to give the metropolitan elite a kicking must be hugely reassured to find their hopes and dreams now resting with a handful of several wealthy white men called Jeremy.

Despite solid work by Paxman, Deller and the much-missed Hardy, the name has become comedy shorthand for the blunderingly ineffectual, with this current crop doing little to break the mould.

What is especially striking is how closely today’s real-life political Jeremies resemble fictional Jeremies from the past.

With his bright button eyes and the panicked grin which spreads across his face each time he is called on to defend another self-created disaster, Jeremy Hunt is Peep Show’s Jeremy Usborne.

Attempting to back Theresa May’s revised deal on television the other day, Hunt ended up admitting to Andrew Marr that Remain would win any People’s Vote. “If you want to stop Brexit you only need three things – kill this deal, an extension and then a second referendum,” he said, and you could almost hear a crestfallen David Mitchell muttering “oh, great” in the background.

Though his approach to Brexit often appears to have been scripted by Jeremy Beadle, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn is actually Jeremy Boob – the furry, idealistic, underachieving Nowhere Man from the animated Beatles film Yellow Submarine, battling in vain against the Blue Meanies while he makes all his nowhere plans for nobody.

Which brings us to Jeremy Hosking, the least well-known of our trio but seeking to change all that through the medium of his wallet.

A former investment banker worth some £330 million, Hosking is a long-time Conservative donor who curiously could be found giving £150,000 to the Labour Leave group during the referendum, part of his total £1.7m spend on pro-Brexit causes. He currently operates the pro-no-deal Brexit Express campaign.

The owner of several steam trains, he has announced plans to run a special Britannia Express service on March 30, carrying a select band of Brexiteers on a victorious rail tour of stations in Leave-voting cities from Swansea to Sunderland.

Brexit Express did not reply to our application for a place among the passengers on this lap of honour. So, alas we will be not be witness to the grateful left-behind hordes crowding platforms to present Jeremy and his chums with simple gifts of bread and salt, pressing their soot-stained faces to the train windows and mouthing “gawd bless you, guv’nor” as their betters wave benevolently from within.

Ah, but what if we don’t actually leave the EU on March 29? Again, Brexit Express did not respond to our questions about whether their plans would change, but it appears that they are prepared to go ahead anyway, regardless of whether there is actually anything for them to celebrate.

That certainly seems to be the pattern established by the Sunday Telegraph/ComRes poll commissioned by Hosking’s organisation last
weekend.

Splashing it on the front page under the headline “Public swinging behind no-deal”, the paper boasted that 44% of the public now believed the UK should leave without a deal if Brussels provided no further concessions.

Yet buried in the detail of the polling was a question about a second referendum, with the same respondents saying they would back Remain over Leave by 46% to 39% in a People’s Vote. There was also a big win for the idea that staying in the EU or holding a second vote would be better for the UK economy than leaving, by 52%-36%.

The other Jeremy whom Jeremy Hosking most resembles, then, is Beatrix Potter’s Jeremy Fisher, the well-to-do amphibian whose grandiose ideas are continually foiled by reality. By the end of his tale, the delicious meal Fisher has promised his friends is no more and “instead of a nice dish of minnows they had a roasted grasshopper with lady-bird sauce; which frogs consider a beautiful treat; but I think it must have been nasty!”

Advice, then, for anyone travelling on the Britannia Express: Bring your own sandwiches.

• Congratulations to Tim Martin of Wetherspoons, whom the youth wing of the Leave Means Leave campaign have chosen as the public face of their ‘Future For Leave’ adverts.

It’s an exciting honour for this up-and-coming whippersnapper, only slightly tempered by the fact that Tim Martin 
is 63.

----------------

Brexiteers of the week

4. DAILY EXPRESS

“Provocative post REVEALED” ran the subdeck on an Express online article after Donald Tusk posted an Instagram photo of himself with his English springer spaniel Portos, alongside the caption “my English friend”.

“Is chief MOCKING Theresa MAY on social media?” ran the paper’s headline, with the first paragraph repeating “Head of the European Council Donald Tusk has taken to social media in what could be interpreted as a post mocking Theresa May.”

No doubt many readers dug in to find out how a photo of a man patting his pet might possibly be a sinister subliminal dig at our prime minister. And they would have been disappointed, for in the remaining 518 words of this groundbreaking piece there was not a single mention of the picture.

3. ROCCO FORTE

The 74-year-old hotelier, whose personal wealth is estimated at £340 million, told the Sunday Times that Brexit would succeed but “may cause some short-term disruption, although I think that’s been hugely exaggerated”.

One area Forte is not worried about is immigration, despite the fact that many staff in his UK hotels are EU nationals. “It isn’t going to stop and it won’t stop,” he told the paper. “We had 270,000 immigrants from outside the EU last year who all came in through a process and procedure, there’s no reason why Europeans shouldn’t come in through the same way.”

All of which will be good news to Europeans thinking of working in Rocco’s UK hotels in the future, as it means he will be paying them £30,000 a year – Theresa May’s threshold which foreign workers will have to earn post-Brexit to be allowed to enter the country.

Still, that will be small beer to a man of whom the Telegraph once wrote: “He enjoys the simple things in life; close family, hard graft, good food, private jets.”

2. LIAM FOX

The international trade secretary refused to apologise after it was revealed his department had spent £100,000 on a trade podcast which attracted only 8,398 downloads.

Asked whether the fact that each listen had cost the taxpayer £12.70 represented good value, the fanatic Mr Fox explained: “It depends how many of the businesses that actually listened to it actually became exporters. If all 9,000 who listened to it became exporters then I’d say that was a successful project.”

Good luck with that, Liam. But in the meantime, if you want to be connected with a truly successful audio project you are quite welcome to join Richard Porritt, Andrew Adonis and I for a live recording of The New European’s podcast in London’s fashionable Euston on April 7.

Details are at bit.ly/2C5WWwg and you can get 10% off tickets by quoting EUROPE10.

1. ESTHER McVEY

Last seen railing against the “nasal-gazing” (sic) of Remainers, the former work and pensions secretary continues to make herself look foolish.

“Are the public aware of this? And the many other things the EU has planned for its member states after 2020?” she tweeted last weekend, linking to a Telegraph article headlined “After 2020, all EU members will have to adopt the euro”.

The “other things” turned out to be a single European state with tax-raising powers, but alas for Esther, the piece in question turned out to be a ludicrous ‘what if’ 2014 article by hard Brexit headbanger Andrew Lilico. His greatest hits include calling the murder of Jo Cox “one of the most influential assassinations in British history” as it stopped Leave winning by a wider margin, and comparing the People’s Vote organisation to a “profoundly dangerous, anti-democratic… campaign for a military coup”.

Next week: Esther reveals a scandal in the upper house after learning from a best-seller that an evil Lord is planning to kill Harry Potter and conquer both the Muggle and wizarding worlds to achieve pure-blood dominance.

• Hear more from Steve Anglesey on The New European podcast - available every Friday morning on this website, on iTunes and on Spotify.

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