Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Politicos got my vote

Anna Soubry and John Crace
Henley town hall

IF you’re passionate about a people’s vote or if you’ve just been keeping an eye on the political news of the past years, you’ll certainly know Anna Soubry.

The ex-Conservative MP, now leader of The Independent Group for Change, has faced abuse and death threats aplenty over previous months — but it’s fair to say that her audience at Henley Literary Festival was far more welcoming.

Taking to the stage with Jon Crace from the Guardian, the audience were treated to an insightful and thankfully good-natured hour.

“I say that the Conservative party left me,” said Soubry, talking about her decision to quit the party that had been her home for 40 years.

“I used to look at people like Jacob Rees-Mogg and think ‘Why am I in a party with people I have so little in common with?’ when I was in the rebel lobbies thinking ‘I have more in common with these people.’”

And we know Soubry’s story since, with abuse and threats becoming part of her everyday life. She’s in no doubt that our politics is more fraught now than ever.

“I blame Boris Johnson for whipping people up from angry to a point where they think it’s acceptable to use foul language with anyone who doesn’t agree with them,” she said.

“Boris wants the people versus parliament and he will say anything that advances his career. That said, he’s so dreadful at Prime Minister’s Questions that we all sit there thinking ‘Bring back Theresa.’”

Crace is also not a fan of Johnson and believes that “This is a new low. The atmosphere is toxic. It’s all a performance in which the electorate is being taken for mugs. I miss the sense of integrity that Theresa May bought to the job. Boris has stopped being a joke to sketch as he’s so dangerous.”

This sold-out event was excellent, with Soubry and Crace revealing what really has been going on in Westminster over recent months.

It was brilliantly hosted by Steve Hawkes and drew laughs and gasps from the audience in equal measure.

It’s good to know that whatever is going on, we can still all find things to laugh at — and on Saturday night Henley had Grayling, Cummings and many more to thank for their chuckles.

Tamryn Settle

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