Brexit, Actually

Sorry, Hugh Grant, but the era of smug tossers is over.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill

Topics Brexit Politics

Oh God, Hugh Grant is morphing into the prime minister character he played in Love Actually. You remember his PM in Richard Curtis’s godawful film. He was a bumbling but loveable super-liberal wanker who danced through the stuffy rooms of Downing Street. If you thought this fictional PM who stands up to an evil American president (Billy Bob Thornton) and falls in love with his tea lady (Martine McCutcheon) was just a Richard Curtis wet dream about how this country must be governed by nice, socially aware, middle-class people like him, you were half right. It was, of course, but now that dream is becoming a nightmarish reality. Now Hugh Grant really is knocking on people’s doors and spouting chattering-class platitudes at them.

Grant is on a mission to stop Brexit. Yes, tired of agitating against press freedom, now he’s agitating against democracy. What a swell guy. What’s his next target: the right to trial by jury? He’s campaigning with the Lib Dem Luciana Berger and the Labour hopeful Faiza Shaheen because both of them are as horrified by the masses’ dumb vote to leave the EU as Grant and his posh chums are. And some observers are fainting with glee at the fact that fiction has become reality. ‘Hugh Grant is recreating Love Actually scenes to try to stop Brexit’, gushes Glamour. He’s just like ‘Prime Minister David’, it says, no doubt fanning itself at the very thought.

In Love Actually, Grant’s PM visits the home of Natalie — the McCutcheon tea lady — and says he needs her for important ‘state business’. In truth he just wants to shag her. Now, the real Hugh Grant is out and about with Ms Berger and Ms Shaheen, ‘throwing his weight behind the liberal parties in the hope that they’ll stop Brexit’, as Glamour says. ‘[T]his time he’s not knocking on doors searching for a woman — he’s supporting one’, Glamour continues. That noise you can hear is me cringing violently.

It will come as a shock to literally no one that virtually everyone who was involved in inflicting Love Actually on the world is equally Brexitphobic. Grant’s co-star Emma Thompson says Brexit is ‘madness’. Curtis himself thinks the UK, and especially its art sector, has been ‘severely weakened’ by Brexit. Indeed, his little Love Actually sequel that he made for Comic Relief in 2017 was, he said, inspired by Brexit and Trump and the question of ‘whether love still is actually all around us’. Oh, piss off, Rich.

It makes perfect sense that the people who gave us Love Actually — when we never did anything to them — should loathe Brexit. Because, in some ways, Brexit is a revolt against Love Actually. No, not against the movie, but against that entire era; against that period in the 1990s and 2000s when Third Way bores, post-ideological technocrats and — how can I put this politely? — smug tossers dominated everything. Dominated politics, dominated public debate, dominated culture. Love Actually, the most painfully middle-class thing ever foisted on the cinema-going public — and I’m including the Merchant Ivory films — summed up the colonisation of culture and opinion by the tosser brigade. To watch Love Actually is to get a glimpse into a world where only the views of well-educated, Arts Council-funded, pro-EU, Blair-loving but Blair-disappointed Hampstead types matter, while the rest of us are, at best, loveable tea ladies who might get a shag from Hugh Grant if we’re lucky.

Let’s talk about Natalie, actually. Martine McCutcheon’s character summed up the Curtis / Blair / tosser era’s view of the little people. Of course Curtis got the character entirely wrong. When PM David knocks on her door, Natalie says ‘fuck’ a lot despite the fact that her nan is standing next to her. Working-class girls don’t say fuck in front of their grandmothers, Richard. But more importantly, she is notably just a colourful, cutesy, exotic creature, whose only role in life is to flatter the right-on credentials of Curtis’s posh fantasy prime minister — much as all of us were viewed in that era of smug tossers.

Brexit is a revolt against this smug set; against that 1990s reduction of ordinary people to bit-part players in the cultural elite’s political fantasies; against Blairisim and Clintonism and Brussels and fucking Love Actually. No wonder Curtis, Thompson and Grant hate it — it rips up everything they stand for. Look, Hugh, I’m sure you’re a nice guy, and not a smug tosser at all, but the gig is up. The days when infinitesimally small numbers of cultural bigwigs could set the agenda are over. We all want a voice now. The millions matter. The tea ladies matter. Our votes matter. There’s a new force in town: it’s not love — it’s Brexit actually.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


Hugh Bryant

8th December 2019 at 1:04 pm

If Grant turns up on your doorstep just ask him how QMV works and then, when he’s forced to admit he doesn’t even know what it is, ask him why he wants to hand the government of this country over to an organisation he knows absolutely nothing about. Actually.

Helen Wood

6th December 2019 at 5:54 pm

Love Actually most nauseating film Ive ever seen. Notting Hill worst film Ive ever seen.

Ven Oods

6th December 2019 at 4:48 pm

The bit I never understand about celeb pronouncements on politics, climate change (or anything, really) is that they seem to think their own opinion should influence anyone else.
I can enjoy De Niro on screen whether or not he likes Trump (and why should I care?)

Neil McCaughan

6th December 2019 at 12:39 pm

One might hope that Mr Grant had got beyond soliciting grossly lewd acts in a public place. But begging votes for the odious LimpDumb and ridiculous Labour parties seems more of the same. Perhaps he’ll be out pimping for Alex Salmond next.

John Millson

6th December 2019 at 10:05 am

Oh dearoh dearoh dear…
Image: Sp!ked in MAGA cap, dressing gown and moth-eaten slippers, tapping out this wannabe ‘Sun Says’ clap-crap.
There is something quite sad and nauseating about inverted-snobbery. Especially when it’s not genuine.
Brexit was not a specifically ‘working class’ revolt.

Neil McCaughan

6th December 2019 at 12:42 pm

Though not as sad as the half educated lower middle class squeaking their indignation, because they can’t have their own way.

Jonnie Henly

6th December 2019 at 3:18 pm

You mean like what UKIP (now mostly Tory) voters were doing for 20 years?

Jonnie Henly

6th December 2019 at 5:58 am

“Because, in some ways, Brexit is a revolt against Love Actually”

It’s ironic how the biggest champions of Brexit are so often the ones who make it look like a stupid and worthless idea.

Less of a revolt against the establishment than a petty tantrum from a few self loathing right on anti PC – PC bores who want to ‘get back’ at everyone who’s annoyed them over the past few decades.

“Take that you smug tossers!”, is the rallying cry (more like a squeal).

I don’t know why the Lib Dems need to call upon High Grant when they have Brendan and co doing their job for them.

Jonnie Henly

6th December 2019 at 5:50 am

“whose only role in life is to flatter the right-on credentials of Curtis’s posh fantasy prime minister — much as all of us were viewed in that era of smug tossers.”

Whereas now our Prime Minister views working class people as feckless, stupid criminals. His own words.

I’m struggling to see how that’s much of an improvement.

Jill W

5th December 2019 at 9:02 pm

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan has a canvassing Love Actually spoof on her twitter account

K Tojo

5th December 2019 at 9:02 pm

Emma Thomson is at it again this evening. She’s outside BBC Broadcasting house warning anyone mug enough to take her seriously that the end is nigh unless we de-industrialise immediately.

Where are those “climate change denier” scientists when you need them? Keeping their heads down until the madness blows over (they hope).

George Orwell

5th December 2019 at 9:31 pm

The ‘climate change denier scientists’ are doing their best but the ‘smug tossers’ are keeping them out of the media.
Nothing is happening with weather or climate that is beyond the observed range of natural variability.
If CO2 has no effect on climate then, at a stroke, fossil fuels become less environmentally damaging than solar and wind power.

George Orwell

5th December 2019 at 9:46 pm

Here is an example of just how stupid the current climate alarmism has become:

K Tojo

5th December 2019 at 11:20 pm

Thanks for the link. If only the MSM (especially in the broadcast field) had journalists prepared to challenge the climate change consensus with a bit of rebel spirit. I guess they are more concerned with their long term career prospects.

Anyway, in our increasingly feminised culture “looking at what the science tells you” is not as important as what you FEEL about the science. Those with the strongest feelings must be listened to. Never mind the boring old denialist data – we need our therapeutic dose of moral outrage.

Michael Lynch

6th December 2019 at 8:17 pm

Pity they don’t take her up on it and immediately cancel all non essential 1st class flights. How on earth would she make it back home? Don’t people tire of these outrageous hypocrites?

M Blando

11th December 2019 at 6:46 pm

Not that you’re into stereotypes K Tojo. Men don’t have feelings I presume? There are alternatives views I could suggest. How about it’s about posturing and being the big ‘I am’ (Emma T thinks she’s that influencial, that she exercises that much ‘power’). All of which, if you’re into stereotypes suggests an increasingly masculine society…


6th December 2019 at 9:18 am

Well, I suppose if we were to follow the silly woman’s advice and ‘de-industrialise immediately’ she’d have to stay on one side of the Atlantic (unless she can swim it of course). So every cloud has a silver lining.

M Blando

11th December 2019 at 6:47 pm

Um, if she picked the other side of the Atlantic, yes…. knowing our luck.

Neil McCaughan

6th December 2019 at 12:44 pm

I believe she is a common actress.

Who knows as much about climate science as Roger Harrabin and ‘Dr’ Caroline Lucas. After all, they each have a degree in English.

Bridget Jones

6th December 2019 at 7:01 pm

On that note, I wonder what carbon footprint the Arts and other leisure industries make? There’s a good case to make that they are unnecessary first world indulgences that should be the first to go if the planet were really in serious peril as they claim. These activities are something most of us enjoy in some way or other that we all could sacrifice for ‘the greater good’ rather than try and prevent developing nations from having a taste of what the west has enjoyed for a century or so. Celebrity activists would certainly be a lot more convincing if you could see them willing to forego their own sumptuously rewarding careers to help save the earth. They may well attempt to dismiss the idea by saying ‘oh but that’s not enough’ but we can say ‘better to start somewhere than say ‘so why bother, set the example, be the change you want to see’ but I’m getting the impression it’s for “others” to to make all the sacrifice without impinging on the vast benefits they accrue from these aesthetic energy guzzling activities

Michael Lynch

5th December 2019 at 8:51 pm

Right on, Brendan. Tosser is a great word to describe the likes of Grant. Stick to films, Hugh, and your ‘ever so slightly dim middle-class prick’ typecast character. I wonder if he’s a method actor and is actually just like this behind the mask. I used to feel some sympathy for him regarding the British Press, but now I hope they continue to tear him apart once his Remain usefulness is done.

Gareth Edward KING

5th December 2019 at 7:04 pm

Oh! Now come on! What about ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’? Didn’t we just love Hugh in that? Unfortunately, the ‘smug tossers’ are still with us; there’re at least four of them at the NATO conference right now and they’ve been taking the Mickey out of Trump on video: Trudeau, Macron, Johnson and Rutte, not to mention our very own Princess Ann, bless her! But come on Annie, surely after your brother’s escapades you can be a little more helpful than that? Never mind the small point that that God-awful Trump was actually voted in by the plebs, now, be a good sport, what!

Jim Lawrie

5th December 2019 at 6:27 pm

Now we know why people steal the puke bags on aeroplanes.

Major Bonkers

5th December 2019 at 8:03 pm

I do that! If you have small children in the back of your car, they are invaluable.


5th December 2019 at 5:50 pm

Celebrity endorsement of political platforms is a bizarre phenomenon. Does anybody ever change their voting intentions because wotisname who plays thingamejig in Soapville Crescent told him or her to? If so, it would probably be better if they were gently steered away from the polling station to somewhere safe and comfortable where they can’t hurt themselves or anybody looking after them.

K Tojo

5th December 2019 at 5:30 pm

O’Neill says: “The days when infinitesimally small numbers of cultural bigwigs could set the agenda are over.”

If only that were true! Who can forget the image of Emma Thomson aboard that pink yacht parked in the middle of Oxford Circus. That huge perennial toothy grin of hers as she declared her solidarity with Extinction Rebellion was an alarming sight to behold. Even worse was the succession of opinionated, climate know-nothings on TV nodding in agreement and telling anyone who would listen to “look at the science”.

Major Bonkers

5th December 2019 at 5:52 pm

Personally, I keep hoping that Em ‘n’ Greg (Mr Thompson) are going to go to prison for refusing to pay their tax, on the weird basis that they ‘have actively loved paying tax, because [they are] profound fucking socialist[s]’, or something. See:

Unfortunately, though, the HMRC don’t seem to have caught up with them yet – they have had almost 5 years of not paying their taxes, which has given them enough time to inflict ‘Last Christmas’, a Christmas cash-in movie, onto a country already groaning under the effects of bad rom-coms.

No doubt when Jeremy Corbyn is elected they can start paying their taxes again. Perhaps we can also look forward to some Eisenstein-like propaganda pieces from Em ‘n’ Greg. Or perhaps they’ll do us all a favour and just fuck off.

Jerry Owen

5th December 2019 at 5:06 pm

The best comedy I ever saw Grant in was that American film.. gosh what was it called now.. a shortish film it was I think.. oh it was a non fiction comedy I believe.
Think Jerry think man.. I’m sure someone here knows what it was. it centres around Grant being filmed in the back of his car with a black hooker, not much else happened in the film, but it was a hoot anyway!
Someone must remember it surely!

Major Bonkers

5th December 2019 at 7:59 pm

I think that I remember the soundtrack. It went something like this:

“Ok big boy, let’s see whaddya got… zzziiiipppp… [pause]… is that it?… Well, this won’t take long, honey… [strange squelching and slurping noises, police siren noise, rapping on window noise]… Ged outta da car buddy an’ do ya zipper up… I say, gosh, I’m most awfully sorry – hello officers, fancy seeing you here – you’ll never guess what happened – I was just walking down this street and I happened to meet an old friend [sound of truncheon hitting soft tissue] … shaddup prevert an geddin da back of da cruiser, we’re takin’ you in.”

Jerry Owen

5th December 2019 at 11:11 pm

Your memory is better than mine 😉

Tony Prince

6th December 2019 at 9:36 pm

I know which one you mean but usually his films that aren’t x rates are all the same…stuttering, fop haired jerk in some phoney happy clappy take on ‘reality’. Must give some lefty liberal twerps a h*td on

jessica christon

5th December 2019 at 4:31 pm

I haven’t seen Love Actually so although I agree with Brendan’s points, the references were totally lost on me!

Mark Houghton

5th December 2019 at 6:08 pm

I enjoyed ‘Love, actually’ but then I grew up and realised with a shite film it was.

K Tojo

5th December 2019 at 8:55 pm

You should get a chance to see it on TV soon. It usually gets a showing around Christmas time. O’Neill is right – media luvvies at their sentimental, virtue-signalling worst.

Perverted Lesbian

6th December 2019 at 1:24 pm

It is amusing to me how Curtis’s films were so popular, mostly due to a very posh Hugh Grant saying the word ‘f$ck, a lot when he was late for 3 weddings, and they called that other one duck face, cos duck sounds like….yeah you got it, hilarity did ensue, oh and not forgetting the bald bloke bonking the bridesmaids, oh my gosh, where did he come up with this stuff?!
I reckon Curtis unlike the actors is probably a decent bloke he is just so painfully middle class, and therefore irritating.
Hugh has a track record of hating everything British, which is ironic cos without his ridiculously posh English accent he wouldn’t be enjoying the cosseted lifestyle he currently does, Hugh is such a w@nker, I hope the electorate does their job next week, let’s see Corbyn eviscerated and Hugh told to suck our plums, you pompous insufferable prick.

Brian Burnell

5th December 2019 at 4:18 pm

You forgot to mention Brendan that the tosser was so bad at chatting up nice compliant girls that when visiting LA, he thought that no one here would notice if a prossy (as we say in deepest Yorkshire) tossed him off in a public toilet. He was wrong about that too.

Hector Drummond

5th December 2019 at 4:11 pm

“Look, Hugh, I’m sure you’re a nice guy”

By all reports he’s not a nice guy in person at all. The common consensus amongst his circle seems to be that he’s more like his Daniel Cleaver character in Bridget Jones than his Love, Actually PM character.

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