Brexfactor: Farewell and sleep well to jolly Roger Helmer
PUBLISHED: 13:36 16 June 2017 | UPDATED: 13:36 16 June 2017
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We pick the most wrong and unstable Leavers of the week
10 Crispin Blunt
Perhaps there’s something about politicians whose surnames rhyme with swear words. When Democrat Dick Tuck lost a 1966 California senate race, he opened his speech with the words “the people have spoken… the bastards”. Leap forward 51 years and Blunt was feeling much the same on election night. Describing how he felt when he heard the exit poll’s prediction, the Conservative MP for Reigate told the BBC: “Like everyone else I was astonished. Some people say the electorate never get it wrong, clearly they have got it wrong.”
It’s not the first time Blunt has been so, erm, blunt. In March, the keen Brexiteer described a Lords amendment designed to give Parliament a meaningful vote prior to formally leaving the EU as “a load of eyewash”, explaining that as the Tories had a clear majority in the Commons “we can dispose in that sense the parliamentary approval process”. Yet, thanks to the bastards at the ballot box, things look somewhat different now…
9 Boris Johnson
Theresa May’s Brutus-in-waiting penned an article for the Sun arguing that the Conservatives’ election hadn’t gone so badly after all. “I am delighted to see that we Tories have just won Clwyd South – the seat where I was first defeated in the great Blair landslide of 1997,” he wrote. Alas for Boris, Labour’s Susan Elan Jones actually retained the seat, increasing her majority to beat Tory Simon Baynes by more than 4,000 votes.
8 Robert Readman
An avid letter-writer to local and national papers, the Bournemouth resident enlightened readers of his hometown Echo by explaining that “the ultimate responsibility for the electoral debacle lies not with Theresa May, but with the Remoaners”. He added that the PM’s reckless gamble was in fact a “courageous decision… trusting that the result would give her a clear mandate and strengthen her bargaining position. Had the Remoaners shut up and accepted the democratically expressed will of the people of this country, there would have been no need for her to call a General Election”.
But with such a brave leader at the helm and the electorate close enough to smell the sweet ambrosia of Brexit, how did things go wrong? Robert wrote: “Unfortunately, thanks again to the Remoaners, this gave Jeremy Corbyn and his comrades the opportunity to peddle their ‘pie in the sky’ manifesto… and people (millions of them first-time voters who have never experienced the dire consequences of Labour’s incompetence when it comes to money-management) fell for it hook, line and sinker!”
Hmmm, doesn’t this all sound suspiciously like someone refusing to accept “the democratically expressed will of the people of this country?” Anyhow, it’s definitely the best letter by someone called Robert Readman from Bournemouth since this one, which appeared in the Telegraph in 2010: “There is a brilliant and simple solution to the controversy over racial profiling at airports. All passengers will be required to step into a booth that scans for explosive devices and automatically detonates any device found. Harmless individuals will be released immediately after being scanned. Muffled explosions, contained within the booth, will be followed by an announcement that a seat has become available for standby passengers. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
7 Mark Gough
Lovers of the Small Claims Court strand in Shaun Keaveny’s excellent BBC 6 Music breakfast show, which celebrates tenuous brushes with success, will enjoy the verdict from a UKIP candidate who lost 75% of his 2015 vote as he trailed in the Tories and Labour in his Essex seat. A defiant Gough declared: “We have made it very clear we (UKIP) are still here. We are clearly the third party in Harlow.”
6 Katie Hopkins
“Suck it up, snowflakes,” has been a Hatie Kopkins mantra since late June of last year, yet the sacked LBC presenter and libel case loser seems reluctant to practice what she preaches.
Last November the humanoid hatebot could be found railing at judges who she felt were undermining “the very democracy that saw us queue up in the rain before and after we went to work in order to have our vote count, to matter, to have our say”. Now she seems keen to undermine that same rain-soaked democracy.
“Some of the voting might make Kim Jong Un blush,” Hopkins wrote of the election result, in what sounds suspiciously like a completely unfounded hint at corruption. “And the rise in votes from young people feels cynical, at best, and narcissistic. A generation used to obsessing over itself, motivated purely by self-interest, was persuaded by means of a minutely targeted campaign to vote Labour in return for free university tuition.
“The idea that they might have considered what is best for their country, even for a nanosecond, even if they had the first idea what that is, is laughable.”
So to summarise: If you vote Katie’s way you’re standing up for democracy and British fair play; if you vote the other way you’re a self-interested saboteur. Hope that’s clear.
5 Robert Syms
The Tory MP for Poole celebrated re-election by calling a Labour supporter a “dick”. Keen Brexiteer Syms hit out at a Twitter user called @youlittlequilt, who wrote: “Sinn Fein are saying that the Tories are in breach of the Good Friday Agreement by forming a coalition with the DUP – and they’re right, too”.
Syms replied: “It’s not a coalition, you dick” – not the kind of language you’d expect from a man who three years ago railed against anti-social behaviour from stag parties in the wealthy Poole suburb of Sandbanks, where he said a resident had complained one house had sported “blow-up dolls bought from a sex shop all the way around the veranda”.
4 Godfrey Bloom
Nigel Farage’s former flatmate took the election result with all the class and grace you’d expect from a man who once called for the end of international aid to “Bongo-Bongo land”. Bloom fumed on Twitter that “the irony is all those down at heel grubby children that voted Corbyn will be the ones who have to eventually pick up the tab” and it wasn’t long before he was outlining plans to disenfranchise them completely. Some Tweets appeared with paragraph marks, making them resemble the poetic efforts of an alt-right Adrian Mole:
Electoral reform is the only chance
The concept of democracy is for those who contribute.
Not those who suck permanently at the public teat.
We need an electoral rethink.
If you are not a shareholder in Marks & Spencer you don’t get a vote at the AGM.
No skin in the game, no vote.
3 Steve Baker
Twelve Tories have been promoted so far in the Titanic deckchair rearrangement programme also known as Theresa May’s reshuffle; only two were pro-Leave. One of the pair is Hard Brexit headbanger Baker, who has won a junior role in David Davis’ Ministry For Jumping Off Cliffs.
In many ways it’s a fitting appointment – in David Cameron’s final months as PM Baker led a group of hardline anti-EU MPs known as the Flying Monkeys, and we all remember who they served in The Wizard Of Oz. No doubt May sees the rebel’s elevation in the same way Lyndon Johnson reconciled himself with keeping J Edgar Hoover as head of the FBI: “It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.”
But before he formally takes up his post, shouldn’t Baker have to explain an email from February 2016 in which he suggested that while the official Vote Leave campaign’s referendum spending was legally limited to £7m, “It is open to the Vote Leave family to create separate legal entities, each of which could spend £700,000: Vote Leave will be able to spend as much money as is necessary to win the referendum”?
Vote Leave appeared to follow Baker’s advice a few months later, donating £625,000 to 23-year-old fashion student Darren Grimes, who spent the money creating and promoting pro-Leave Facebook messages in the final week of the campaign. Baker and Vote Leave have denied any wrongdoing.
2 Jacob Rees-Mogg
Long accused of living in the past, the backbench Bertie Wooster has now revealed himself to live on a completely different planet to the rest of us with a Telegraph article which argued “this election was a tacit endorsement of the PM’s Brexit strategy”.
How does that work exactly? Rees-Mogg explained that the Labour surge was “about everything except Brexit… It is clear that voters did not want to be asked the same question twice… voters showed no desire to change”.
Riiiiiiight. Conclusive proof there that Jacob’s crackers.
1 Roger Helmer
So farewell then Jolly Roger, who stood down as the UKIP MEP for the East Midlands this week in a move that had absolutely nothing whatsoever do with an impending demand from the EU Parliament that he repay around £100,000 of allegedly misused public funds.
A regular fixture in this column since its inception, Helmer highlights have included the time when he decided to get away from all mention of Christmas over the festive period by going on went on a trip to… Bethlehem. There, our hero was surprised to find people celebrating the birth of former local boy Jesus Christ.
Brussels will be poorer without his unique talents, although it stands to be slightly wealthier if Helmer does have to give back money paid to his gofer Paul Oakden. Alas, MEPs are not allowed to hire full-time assistants who work for national political parties, and Oakden turns out have been UKIP chairman at the time – hardly an exhausting task in these days of dwindling membership and ballot box wipeouts, but a no-go in any case. Roger denies any wrongdoing.
A fuller tribute will appear later, but for now let’s emulate the famous photo of him hard at work in the EU Parliament chamber by closing our eyes and reflecting on what the future will be like without Roger Helmer to kick around.