The process of Brexit has been a boon for the careers of a variety of professionals in a variety of careers and with a variety of stated political objectives.
Two and a half years of failures of preparation and confused negotiations by the Tory government has allowed grifters to forge quasi-careers as professional opinion givers and pseudo analysts and develop undeserved self-importance.
Brexit grifters, or Brexifters, appear across much of the political spectrum, within the political bubble, the media bubble and elsewhere.
The far-right is a political boil whose most vocal proponents are almost always blatant grifters. Nigel Farage, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, Melanie Phillips, Arron Banks, Andy Wigmore, Isabel Oakeshott, Darren Grimes, Julia Hartley-Brewer and Rod Liddle are rabble-rousing far-right voices who are in it for the money. Income streams from books, articles, TV appearances and online donations are their motivation. None has a genuine opinion or belief. It’s all about the money.
The reaction of most medium and large businesses to Brexit uncertainty is to cut and run leaving their employees and customers in the lurch. A few have adopted a political stance to grab media time in order to promote their businesses, none more so than pub chain owner Tim Martin. The willingness of TV producers to invite this buffoon on to spout drivel is a symptom of the former’s stupidity.
In the houses of parliament many Tory MPs and lords are employed by the representatives of disaster capitalists and other would-be beneficiaries of a cliff-fall no-deal Brexit. Every word spoken and every action taken by these MPs and lords is in aid of wealth terrorists who are salivating at the thought of how much money they can make rapidly from a disastrous abrupt departure from the EU. Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Michael Gove are the epitome of venality and recent Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and current Health Secretary Matt Hancock receive regular salaries from disaster capitalists’ lobby group the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). Tory MP Lee Rowley is co-chair of FREER, a subsidiary of IEA.
Residual walking dead of New Labour have welcomed Brexit as an opportunity to rake it in as astroturfers opposing it. Tony Blair, king of grifters, has popped up in stage-managed media work to promote himself and his institute and has gallivanted around Europe on various expenses paid jollies. A man who isn’t the most successful politician in his family, David Miliband, has deigned to give a few paid interviews from his home in another country.
Right-wing Progress subset of Labour has used Brexit primarily as a tool to criticise Jeremy Corbyn but they are not averse to making money out of it. Brexit has greatly enhanced the earning potential of professional centrists via media appearances, highly paid articles and attendance at events. Chuka Umunna managed to get paid twice for the same vacuous article, once for its publication on the Independent website and once for its inclusion on the website of his fake think tank Progressive Centre UK (PCUK), a lobby group he co-created that pays him £65040 per annum. The aforementioned David Miliband is on the board of PCUK’s sister lobby group in Italy, Volta.
Without Brexit, the careers of many centrist journalists would have decayed to nothing. Jonathon Freedland imitator Matthew D’Ancona’s usefulness was increasingly nebulous but ill-informed garbled non sequiturs from a supposedly remain perspective are almost as lucrative as the opposite nonsense from the brexcrement mob. D’Ancona made the bold move of creating a magazine, Drugstore Culture, for him and colleagues to espouse clumsily their basic views on Brexit; it is similar to 80s’ magazine The Face if a face had sat framed in Dorian Gray’s attic for thirty years. Ian Dunt, notorious for equating Jeremy Corbyn with Viktor Orbán, reactivated his disappearing career by positioning himself as the media’s goto voice to counter ignorant screaming heads such as Tim Martin. Dunt’s role is an easy one because his debate opponents are unintelligent and ignorant. Easy role, easy money. Neither D’Ancona nor Dunt add worth to the debates in and around Brexit. Nick Cohen’s work needs no observation.
The Progress subgroup People’s Vote is a template for grifting. Its most visible protagonist Femi Oluwole travels around (at whose expense) interviewing Brexit supporters and correcting their (lack of) knowledge of the relationship between Britain and the EU. Brass Eye’s fake vox pops were part of a satirical comedy show by the genius Chris Morris but Oluwole‘s efforts are self-aggrandisement for him and a nice little earner.
Satirical comedy has a fine history but at present British TV comedy is populated by run-of-the-melt comedy-by-numbers characters who proclaim from a single witless script hitting the easiest of targets. O’Briain, Hills and Cruttenden eschew wit and are the antithesis of skillful satirists like Frost and Bremner, but simplistic bland comedy pays a steady income.
The TV current affairs careers of Robert Peston and Andrew Neil linger because Brexit provides some stories each day that they can splutter about barely coherently and pick up the cheque. James O’Brien’s rise to a steady job in broadcasting is due entirely to him being the Remain version of Farage.
Brexit is a political issue but members of the legal profession are adept at recognising a source of income for themselves. They know that most of the public, almost all of the politicians and everyone who works in newspapers and broadcasting can be duped into believing that a barrister or lawyer has a unique and informative opinion to offer in exchange for a fee. Jo Maugham has cast himself as a centrist leader of opinion, ready and available for a seat in a TV studio or a spot on Parliament Green with the ‘QC’ after his name his authorisation; he has nothing more to offer than the aforementioned Dunt and D’Ancona.
Brexifting can be lucrative and is steady work. As shown above, knowledge, insight and didactic narratives are not essential requirements; sufficient skills include a chosen specific political point from which to proclaim and a capacity to repeat relentlessly without pausing for self-reflection or shame.
Screaming Heads and Professional Trolls
Matt Hancock and IEA
Institute of Economic Affairs
Progressive Centre UK
Drugstore Culture magazine
Ian Dunt on Viktor Orbán