MANDRAKE: Boris Johnson creates new film factory to help with Brexit propaganda efforts
PUBLISHED: 22:27 11 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:36 12 January 2020
Boris Johnson sets up film unit to record the triumphs of Brexit and why a paperback version is still not planned of David Cameron's memoirs.
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In a tacit admission that Brexit is all about dreams rather than reality, Boris Johnson is setting up his own film factory to present his ideology to the populace in a determinedly positive and romanticised way.
"The idea is to put up films online and elsewhere that show the human triumphs of Brexit and we're now actively recruiting the best film professionals available," whispers my informant in Whitehall. "New cash is being made available and existing resources are being diverted from the old-fashioned media operations that churned out press releases for the legacy publications."
Although Dominic Cummings will play a key role in setting up the film unit, it's very much Johnson's brainchild. I disclosed in 2018 how, as mayor of London, he commissioned an astonishing 168 "official information films", all, needless to say, starring himself.
Johnson kept commissioning films after he became foreign secretary, including a "Hi, folks" update from the banks of the Amazon - in which he proclaimed himself to be the first holder of his office to visit Peru in 50 years - and another in which he roped in Kevin Pietersen, the former England cricket captain, to co-star with him in a short feature that extolled the merits of our border force.
Serious actors and filmmakers should be wary of involving themselves in propaganda. I well remember interviewing the late actor Sir Anthony Quayle, and, when I asked him if he ever regretted narrating Conservative party broadcasts, he looked dolefully out of the window and brought the interview to an abrupt halt.
Memo to Chris Philp, the new minister for London. In the new register of ministers' interests, you have omitted to disclose your involvement in six private companies, which you do acknowledge in the MPs' register of interests.
All of the LLPs are concerned with "property finance and investment". Philp has declared a single corporate interest in the ministerial document for an outfit called Millgap Ltd, reported as "an investment holding company personally owned by Mr Philp," and worth £188,000.
According to the rules for the register, "shareholdings are not listed where they are de minimis in nature", but even in terms of the high rollers that Boris Johnson surrounds himself with, the £611,625 the companies have in funds is still not exactly chicken feed.
Johnson himself makes one interesting admission in the register of ministers' interests: he now records Carrie Symonds as his "partner".
The author Robert Harris felt the publication of David Cameron's memoirs in the autumn could hardly have been worse timed. "It's as if Stanley Baldwin had published his memoirs at the height of the Blitz," the author of Fatherland noted, acidly.
Tellingly, booksellers tell me that there appear to be no immediate plans to publish For the Record in paperback. When I inquire, the former PM's factotum Laurence Mann confirms no publication date has been set. Cameron appears to have withdrawn in terror to his garden shed and has not seen fit to emit a single Tweet since December 13, when his long-time rival Boris Johnson secured his Commons majority.
The Lib Dems could conceivably go from their first female leader in Jo Swinson to their first female and openly pansexual one in Layla Moran. Wisely, Moran decided to 'out' herself last week on her own terms after the Mail on Sunday learnt of her relationship with Rosy Cobb, her party's former head of media.
Tabloid newspapers have since helpfully explained to their readers what 'pansexual' means - attraction based on personality, rather than gender - and I, for one, hope it won't prejudice anyone against her if she decides to run for the Lib Dem leadership.
During my own recent political trials and tribulations, Moran was, while always steadfastly loyal to the party, immensely kind and supportive to me. I believe in her because she's a human being before she is a politician. That, I'm sure, is why Sir Vince Cable is always reputed to have seen her as his obvious heir apparent, and why, too, the voters of Oxford West and Abingdon re-elected her on an increased majority.
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