Baroness U-turn who’s besotted with Brussels
PATIENCE Wheatcroft is a former newspaper editor who made her name in the early Nineties writing Eurosceptic articles and flattering profiles of City fat-cats.
As City Editor of The Times from the mid1990s, she was a close confidante of the paper’s Eurosceptic proprietor Rupert Murdoch and a vigorous opponent of Britain joining the Euro.
Later she became editor of the Sunday Telegraph, maintaining its anti-Brussels line, before returning to Murdoch to edit the European edition of his Wall Street Journal.
Over the years, her stories about the EU were peppered with words such as ‘farrago’ and ‘misery’. In 2012, she wrote: ‘We were never Europeans. Appreciating the advantages of a single marketplace for our goods and services did not bring our collection of diverse economies and cultures close to homogeneity.’
However, she then underwent a Damascene conversion.
Made a life peer by David Cameron, the 66-year-old campaigned against Brexit. Days before the referendum, she warned
the case for Brexit came from the ‘Fawlty Towers School of Economics’, adding that ‘virtually every respected economic analyst’ reckoned a Leave vote would ‘create a downturn in the short and medium term’.
In fact, unemployment has fallen to record lows, while business is prospering, with the FTSE 100 index up 30 per cent.
Since the vote, she has played a key role in orchestrating a string of Lords manoeuvres not just to soften but, in many cases, sabotage the Brexit process. In a comment typical of many unelected lords, she said the verdict of 1 million Leave voters was ‘only advisory’ and backed calls a second referendum.
The passionately pro-Brussels Wheatcroft now chairs the ‘appointments and oversights committee’ for the pro-Remain, Japaneseowned Financial Times. Her posts include work with wealth manager St James’s Place Capital (which pays her around £60,000 a year), law firm DLA Piper, and a £180,000 parttime job at Fiat Chrysler, the Italian car giant which owns the pro-Remain Economist magazine. Cameron also appointed her to the British Museum’s board of trustees.
Her views are shared by husband Tony Salter, a publisher and former Tory councillor so incensed by Brexit he campaigned for the Lib Dems in the Richmond by-election.
To long-standing friends, the crusade on behalf of Remain by this ex-grammar school girl and a former avowed Thatcherite is, at best, confusing.