Plenty of column inches are devoted to hard economic and policy analysis of the unfolding Brexit debate – including plenty in this paper. So today I’m going to indulge in a more light-hearted approach to the topic, and will instead take a look at the people who entertain me the most in these bold new times.
First up, Tim Farron. Yes, the man who leads nine Lib Dem MPs and who, when not being mistaken for the parliamentary intern, has taken the role of Remain campaigner-in-chief. He doesn’t seem to have noticed that the referendum is over and done with, and continues to make a confident pitch for EU membership. Bless.
Then we have part-time pop princess Lily Allen, whose tweets on Brexit bring some much-needed absurdity to a debate that could otherwise be a little dry. Earlier this week the singer responded to the PM’s speech by tweeting: “A global Britain could b good, but the world still hates us cause, SLAVERY.”
When not Tweeting nonsense, she can probably be found in the cafes of Paris, apologising for Brexit on behalf of her fellow Brits.
Next up, I give you the renowned philosopher AC Grayling, who has become something of a God-like figure among the Remain intelligentsia.
The prof is horrified by Brexit and refuses to recognise the legitimacy of the vote. He’s called for a general strike against the referendum result – putting him as in touch with the views of unionised labour as Emily Thornberry. Finally, let me introduce you to Professor Nicholas Boyle, who this week branded 17m Leave voters “the lager louts of Europe”.
The Cambridge prof says Leave voters were just “ruffians and vandals” and the referendum result does not, therefore, deserve to be respected. Charming.
As the Article 50 trigger date looms, these voices are only likely to get louder – not softer. My advice? Enjoy the ride. In a future column I’ll look at the loonier elements of the pro-Brexit team, too. After all, it’s rich pickings...
Fake news? At least it can be entertaining
As a reader of City A.M., I assume you’re not often conned by fake news. But it seems other people are. Consultancy giant FTI polled citizens in the US and UK and the results are startling.x
In the US, nearly half of people said they find it increasingly hard to tell whether online news is real or fake. In the UK, the figure is 35 per cent.
The problem may lie in the fact that nearly 30 per cent of US consumers say fact is less important than whether the story is entertaining.
Zhejiang express arrives in Barking
As China’s President becomes the unlikely spokesman for global capitalism at Davos, a remarkable symbol of global trade has pulled into a freight station in Barking.
The London stop is the final destination on the ‘One Belt, One Road’ route that serves as a new Silk Road along 7,400 miles from China.
It’s a powerful reminder of the great advances in global trade – and of its many benefits.
City veteran turns fire on policy chief
The City of London’s policy chairman, Mark Boleat, has a fine grasp of detail and he understands the complexity and importance of financial services more than many others.
Still, he isn’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea. David Buik of Panmure Gordon, known for his sartorial style as much as his market analysis, complains that “if Boleat is the best standard bearer the City can produce, then God help us”.
Boleat’s term is up soon. Perhaps Buik is considering a run?
Oxfam can do much more for the poor
This week, Oxfam published its annual “look how rich the rich people are” report. It doesn’t really add much to the public debate because of its obsession with inequality and rich people as opposed to poverty and poor people.
Rather than lambasting Bill Gates for “obscene wealth” why not focus on the barriers to trade erected by Western countries that hold back the progress and development of the world’s poor? This could at least yield tangible results, unlike their current harping.
Trump and Churchill: Bonding over brevity
There are many things for which Donald Trump can be criticised, but the latest Twitter target may be a little unfair. Trump has said that he likes short briefing notes, telling reporters "I like bullets or I like as little as possible".
While some say this is yet more evidence of his unsuitability to high office, it is an approach also favoured by Winston Churchill, whose 1940 Downing St memo took aim at "woolly phrases and padding", favouring instead "short, crisp paragraphs".