Enthusiastic Remainers are taking advantage of what was originally dubbed a “festival of Brexit” by Jacob Rees-Mogg in 2018. The plans for “Unboxed – Creativity in the UK”, originally called “Festival UK 2022”, were finally published by Nadine Dorries’ Culture department this week.
Unboxed insists that its projects were commissioned “following an open call and a rigorous selection process” and will be delivered by “hundreds of people” with “a variety of opinions and perspectives”. But one beneficiary that will raise eyebrows is Tour de Moon – “a series of festivals, satellite events, nightlife experiences and a travelling convoy inspired by and, in collaboration with, the moon” (whatever that means).
Tour de Moon’s director, Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian, must be delighted to take part. Days after Britons voted to leave the EU, she posted a message on social media: “‘F— Brexit’. Could not say it better. Let’s all stand against stupidity, manipulation and lies today.”
The festival is being backed by £120 million of taxpayers’ money. Would a bit of gratitude be too much to ask?
Dame Emma’s lightbulb moment
The Duke of Cambridge’s Earthshot Prize ticked all the green credentials, banning A-listers from flying in especially for the awards show and asking them to wear an old outfit. Low-energy lights lit the stage, and an army of Peloton-style cyclists generated electricity to power a set by virtue -signalling rockers Coldplay at the Alexandra Palace in London.
But the eco-friendly approach did not work for everyone. Dame Emma Thompson’s microphone failed when she was handing out a prize. The Hollywood actress’s excuse was edited out by the television producers. But she told those in the audience that she had managed to damage her microphone in the ladies’ loo in the dim lighting. Or as she put it: “I broke my mic by dropping it down the lav.” That’s (eco) showbiz!
A taxing engagement
Boris Johnson and David Cameron renewed their 35-year-old rivalry at a No 10 dinner on Wednesday to mark the 20th anniversary of them all arriving as MPs at the 2001 general election.
Johnson sat in the middle of the long table in the state dining room, with Cameron at one end and George Osborne, another member of the 2001 intake, at the other in a rare reunion of the Bullingdon Club pals.
Two dozen current and former Conservative MPs – including Lord Barker of Battle and organiser Chris Grayling – were in attendance. The highlight was a speech by the PM. Then Cameron replied on behalf of the guests, saying: “You’re the Prime Minister, I am just a former prime minister – but at least in my day we cut taxes’.”
One eyewitness said: “It was pretty lighthearted. It was not really barbed, it was teasing but this is still going on after 35 years [when they were at Eton together]. It was a convivial evening.”
Johnson will reflect that this kind of teasing – days before the Budget next week – was exactly what he got up to when Cameron was in No 10, and he wasn’t.