Lord Snooty’s greatest hits, live at the Palladium… JAN MOIR watches Jacob-Rees Mogg on stage
Burnished of hair, gangly of limb, archaic of phrase and cripplingly posh, Jacob Rees-Mogg is no one’s idea of a big night out in the West End
Burnished of hair, gangly of limb, archaic of phrase and cripplingly posh, Jacob Rees-Mogg is no one’s idea of a big night out in the West End.
Yet here is the Right Hon Member for North East Somerset packing ’em in at the London Palladium like some boy band singer striking out on his own for the big time.
He started with a few of his greatest hits. ‘Remainers think we are stupid,’ he said, ‘but I think Brexit will be delivered because they don’t have the courage to stop it and 17.4million people voted for it.’ The audience roared approval.
Smoothly he moved on to the exciting topics of tariffs, the punitive tax on Chinese pallets and something lovely he had heard on the Today programme. ‘You can get an electronic mechanism to listen to it again,’ said the self-confessed ‘square’.
In an audience question and answer session, someone asked what his nanny might make of his European Research Group’s performance to date. ‘If Nanny doesn’t like what I’ve done, well I’m lost,’ he said, pushing his spectacles up his nose. How we laughed!
Jacob and his amazing technicolour dream quotes were the focus of an evening in conversation with Spectator editor Fraser Nelson.
The two men were seated by a glass coffee table in the middle of the vast Palladium stage, under a spray of crematorium flowers on a plinth. Every expense had been spared. It could have been the start of a Pinter play, it might have been a speed date.
Jacob and his amazing technicolour dream quotes were the focus of an evening in conversation with Spectator editor Fraser Nelson
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The two men were seated by a glass coffee table in the middle of the vast Palladium stage, under a spray of crematorium flowers on a plinth
Instead it was something far more extraordinary – a 90-minute discussion about politics in a West End theatre, complete with crazed fans who call themselves The Moggys. The amazingness of the occasion was not lost on any of us. For the last time a man with a plastered-down side parting and milk bottle specs filled this venue, his name was Arthur Askey.
Certainly, there is something of the vaudeville about Mogg, who was playing up to his Lord Snooty reputation and wearing one of his trademark suits; double-breasted, two sizes too big and looking as if it had just been worn by Lurch of the Addams Family.
Yet his fluting phrases, hardline rhetoric and crystalline locution were rapturously received by his devoted Brexiteer audience.
For them this was the perfect, ultimate edition of Question Time, with a panel consisting of Jacob, Jacob and more Jacob.
They booed and groaned when Theresa May was mentioned, they chuckled when he said he had fathered lots of children to secure the youth vote – even though after sixth child Sextus his wife has informed him there will definitely be no Septimus and no Octopus. Or was that Optimus?
In truth, Mogg said very little that he has not said before – but the audience were so desperate to hear him say it they had paid money and trudged here to have their darkest Brexit wishes heard
Most of all they cheered his every red-blooded Brexiteerism. ‘I would be quite happy to leave without a deal,’ he said, and it nearly brought the house down.
Patrician and polished in equal measure, Mogg sat in his chair looking like a half shut knife from the 19th century, displaying perfect comic timing and a fine line in self mockery.
As ever, his startling eyebrows semaphored his emotion, every hairy striation visible even from my seat way up the gods. They would fly high with surprise or amusement, then turn into dive-bombing crows when it was time to be serious and talk about how divisive a second vote would be. There was a fun interlude when he admitted he had never changed a nappy nor washed a dish and he even got cheered for that. One heckler was told to be quiet by the Moggys in her row.
In truth, Mogg said very little that he has not said before – but the audience were so desperate to hear him say it they had paid money and trudged here to have their darkest Brexit wishes heard.
Of course, not everyone loves Jacob Rees-Mogg. Earlier protesters gathered outside the theatre. ‘Snob!’ they yelled. One waved a Lord Snooty placard, complete with a cartoon top hat drawn on the side. I thought it was rather sweet. However, let’s hope the Moggys don’t catch him.
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