Brexit has torpedoed the Conservative Party

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In the headlines

Rishi Sunak has apologised for leaving yesterday’s D-Day commemorations in Normandy early to record an election interview with ITV. The decision was widely criticised, including by members of the PM’s own party, with ConservativeHome founder Tim Montgomerie describing it as both undignified and “political malpractice of the highest order”. The Green Party is investigating claims that nearly 20 of its election candidates have shared anti-Semitic material online. Officials are examining evidence including social media posts which appear to voice conspiracy theories about the atrocities of October 7. A new Wallace and Gromit film has been announced by the BBC. Vengeance Most Fowl will premiere this Christmas and feature the return of iconic supervillain Feathers McGraw (pictured), whose last appearance was in the 1993 short The Wrong Trousers.


Liz Truss and Boris Johnson: “manifestly unsuitable”. Toby Melville/Getty

Brexit has torpedoed the Conservative Party

As the Tories “stare into the electoral abyss”, the more reflective among them may acknowledge a simple truth, says Robert Shrimsley in the FT: “the Conservative Party has become the last casualty of Brexit”. To be clear, their dire state is not down to the policy itself – the pandemic has been much more significant since the last election. No, Brexit has wrecked the party “because of the political choices its revolutionary guards forced upon it”. Take their obsession with the “red wall” constituencies where Leave voters switched from Labour in 2019. This group should always have been an “extra string to the electoral bow, not the whole violin”. But the Tories have put everything into keeping them onside, alienating the much more important cohort of liberal moderates and southern supporters. The result could be “wipeout” at the ballot box.

Brexit fostered two inherently “unconservative instincts” among Tory MPs: that the end always justifies the means, and that core institutions of British democracy – such as the courts and the civil service – are “enemies of the people”. Crucially, these instincts led them to pick as leaders Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, two “manifestly unsuitable” candidates whose failures torpedoed Conservative support. The consequences of all this cannot be overstated. “The party of the contented has become the party of the angry; the party of prudent finance became the party of fiscal recklessness; the party of stability became a party of chaos, political purism and iconoclasm.”

😢👋 The Conservatives have historically been “two parties in one”, says former minister David Gauke in The New Statesman: the “pragmatic party of the centre right”, which defends the interests of business and the middle class; and the populist party supported by the patriotic working class. But for how long? If Nigel Farage takes over what is left of the Tories after the election, the centrists will leave. If the centrists hold firm, right-wing MPs “will likely defect to Reform”. Either way, the Conservative Party is on course to split, “perhaps irrevocably”.


Miami is increasingly crowded with “branded towers”, says Curbed: apartment blocks sponsored by luxury companies. Porsche, Aston Martin, Mercedes, Bentley, Armani, Fendi, Missoni, Dolce & Gabbana – all have their names attached to posh condo projects. There’s even one by Elle magazine. Brands get licensing fees, a cut of sales and “a ton of free marketing”. And buyers, “besides the thrill of swimming beneath a giant Mercedes logo”, know that a company “they adore and trust” has signed off on their new pad.

Inside politics

The whispers about Joe Biden’s cognitive decline are “growing louder” around the White House, says Gerard Baker in The Times. There were several examples from confidants in a “deeply reported” Wall Street Journal story this week: “long pauses, eyes closed for so long he appeared to have zoned out, relying on prompt cards”. Mark Halperin, a veteran Washington insider, reports that Biden’s mental acuity has diminished “even in the past few weeks”. The latest chatter is that the reason his campaign set the date for his debate with Donald Trump on 27 June – rather than just before the election, as usual – is to give the party enough time to replace him if he makes a complete hash of it.

If you missed our free webinar with Netwealth yesterday, you can still see it by clicking here.

It’s a fascinating discussion with Charlotte Ransom, CEO of Netwealth, and Gerard Lyons, Chief Economic Strategist, considering how a wide range of political and economic events could impact your investments, from a Labour victory in Britain to Donald Trump returning to the White House.

Jon Connell


Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton in 2019. Kevin Mazur/Getty

Dolly Parton still uses a fax machine. Her god-daughter, Miley Cyrus, revealed in an interview with W magazine that the country legend often sends her faxes, which she has to pick up from her lawyer’s office because she does’t know anyone else who still uses the retro communication kit. But it’s always worth the trip. The last fax Dolly sent read: “How much do I love you? As much as my heart can hold and as far as my arms can reach.”

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Book lovers at the Hay Festival in 2022. David Levenson/Getty

“Some things are more important than politics”

The idea that book festivals hold much sway over the future of global warming seems “rather madly grandiose”, says James Marriott in The Times. But what makes them an attractive target for muddle-headed climate activists is that, unlike the mass entertainment businesses that really matter, literature and the arts can be made to “bend themselves to impossible moral standards”. The discrepancy is “comic”: at publishing houses, sensitivity readers earnestly seek out transgressions in texts that will be lucky to reach a few thousand readers. Meanwhile, video game designers cheerfully load games that will sell hundreds of millions of copies with “scantily clad female protagonists” and spectacles of “Tarantino-esque violence”.

When Netflix employees kicked up a stink about featuring the comedian Dave Chappelle because of his jokes about trans people, the company simply “swatted them down”. By contrast, Hannah Barnes’s “even-handed” book investigating failures at the Tavistock gender clinic failed to find a mainstream publisher because senior editors were cowed by activist staff. (Books on “approved political themes” can earn giant advances, of course – a “queer feminist western” recently commanded a £500,000 fee. It sold just 3,500 copies.) The root of the problem is that the arts have come to think of themselves as “improving”. So as the 21st century’s ideas of virtue have become “ever more narrowly political”, publishers, museums and so on have scrambled to prove their relevance through “zealous displays of righteousness”. They seem to have forgotten: “some things are more important than politics”. Like book festivals.

Food and drink

Artet’s “cannabis apertif”

With alcohol sales down thanks to health concerns, American startups are marketing a new kind of liquid intoxicant: drinks laced with THC, the compound in weed that gets you high. Wynk, Cann and Artet are among the companies infusing the cannabinoid into flavoured drinks such as ginger beer and elderflower, says Linda Wells in Air Mail. The cans they sell tend to have low dosages of THC – between one and 2.5 milligrams, compared to as much as 10 in weed-laced “edibles” – to replicate the subtle loosening effect of a cocktail or glass of wine.

Election watch

🗳️ 27 days to go…
Labour leaders usually receive the backing of at least one or two prominent cultural figures, says Finn McRedmond in The New Statesman. Neil Kinnock – hardly a “galvanising” politician – had Billy Bragg behind him in the 1980s. Oasis and Blur both backed Tony Blair in the 1990s; Noel Gallagher even used his 2006 Brit Award acceptance speech to encourage fans to go up and shake Blair’s hand. In 2019, Jeremy Corbyn went to the polls with the blessing of Stormzy. Yet today, no pop culture icon “would be caught dead” telling teenagers or middle England to shake Keir Starmer’s hand. For whatever reason, “cool has abandoned Left Britannia”.


Snapshot answer

It’s the most expensive cow ever sold at auction, a Brazilian Nelore named Viatina-19. The beefy bovine went for $4m, says AP News, more than tripling the previous record. At 1,100kg, she is twice as heavy as the average adult of her breed, and puts on muscle at an incredible rate – a trait she reliably passes on to her offspring. Those eager to boost their own herd can buy a handful of Viatina’s egg cells for a whopping $250,000. “She is the closest to perfection that has been attained so far,” says vet (and the daughter of her owner) Lorrany Martins. “She’s a complete cow.”


“To achieve greatness, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time”
Leonard Bernstein

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