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Andrew Neil on Brexit, Trump... and why he’s worth more than the PM

“I do almost 180 programmes a year – more than almost anybody else in the political sphere”

Published: Tuesday, 16th August 2016 at 1:50 pm

The politicians have a seven week break from Parliament. Are you off duty too?


All the programmes I do – Daily Politics, Sunday Politics, This Week– follow the parliamentary calendar, which means I do five or six programmes a week when Parliament’s sitting and none when it isn’t. We came down to our house in Grasse, in the south of France, in July and I’m not back until Prime Minister’s Questions on 7 September.

You surprised everyone when you got married last year

Yes, I know. I surprised myself.

How has life changed?

It hasn’t actually changed at all. Susan [Nilsson, an engineer] and I had been together five years when we got married so we’d got used to each other. She’s the most accommodating person in the world, and when I start beavering away on the iPad, she gets out her laptop. She’s involved in building bridges and tunnels – much more useful than the stuff that I do.

What did your neighbours in France make of the Brexit vote?

They were dismayed. A few were angry. That’s died down a bit now. The result was so unexpected. On the morning of the vote, David Cameron was told he’d won by ten points. Though he was told that by the same pollsters who’d told him he had a 0.5% chance of getting an overall majority at the 2015 general election!

If I were to make a random guess... you plumped for Leave?

I won’t answer that. I was really pleased during the referendum that both sides regarded me as impartial. But I would say that the British establishment, which has got the biggest bloody nose of recent memory, needs to get a grip. Some publications have lost their marbles. They need to sober up.

Some predictions, please. First, what will Brexit look like?

My guess is we’ll have decent access to the single market. I think there’ll be some movement of labour – Britain will continue to need immigrants – but it won’t be on the same scale as now.

Who will be leading the Labour Party in 12 months’ time?

Jeremy Corbyn, I would guess.

And how many Labour parties will there be?

There’s at least a 50-50 chance of a schism. There’s such a gulf between the parliamentary party and the grassroots that it’s very hard to see how they can continue together. I never thought that the Social Democrat break-up in the 1980s would destroy the Labour Party. But this could be much more fundamental.

Last prediction: who’ll win the US election?

As things stand, I think you’d have to put your money on Hillary. But I’m wary about making predictions: I wouldn’t have predicted Donald Trump would become the Republican candidate, that David Cameron would get an overall majority, that Jeremy Corbyn would become the Labour leader. And I did not predict that we would vote to leave the EU. So people like me should show a little humility.

Finally, a House of Commons report urged the BBC to name – and perhaps shame – all presenters who earn more than the PM’s £143,000 salary.

I have no problem with that at all. I’d only put in one caveat, which is that next to the salary they should put the number of programmes we do every year.

Would your name appear?


Yes, it would. But if you divide my pay by the number of shows I do, I’m pretty far down the pecking order. I do almost 180 programmes a year – more than almost anybody else in the political sphere.


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