Capital Confidential: Reaganite thanks Brexit for delivering Trump

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Welcome to Capital Confidential—a weekly diary column featuring the best tidbits from around the U.K.’s business and political landscape from MarketWatch sister publication Financial News.

This week: Peggy Grande credits Brexit with propelling Trump to victory, Stuart Wheeler makes a killing betting against England’s sporting prowess and Helena Morrissey says she might be ‘too radical’ for the Bank of England…

Brexit led to Trump

Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, the dual seismic political shocks of 2016, are often bracketed together. But Peggy Grande, who was executive assistant to U.S. President Ronald Reagan between 1989 and 1999, believes Brexit led to Trump’s ascent to the White House. During a fringe event at the Tory party conference in Manchester, Grande, who is chair of international pro-Leave lobby group World for Brexit, said: “I actually wanted to thank the Brexit vote because I think in a lot of ways it was the precursor to the election of Donald Trump.” She added: “You shocked the world by going to the polls and having Brexit and voting for that earlier in 2016. That was something that gave the much-needed spark of confidence to those of us in the U.S. who had been looking at the polls and listening to all the pundits and saying, ‘There is zero chance that Donald Trump would win’… the Brexit vote led very strongly to the US election and President Donald Trump.” According to Grande, “the Brexit vote empowered a groundswell of Republican voters to think the election of Hillary Clinton was not inevitable. The two events are connected.” As for what her former boss Reagan would have thought of Brexit, Grande said: “He would have been so appalled at how anti-democratic the European Union is.”

Wheeler fortune

Spread-betting tycoon Stuart Wheeler has given millions to the Tory Party, Ukip and Vote Leave campaign in recent years, but it turns out his golden rule for making a killing is to bet against England in high-profile sporting events. At the launch of his autobiography Winning Against the Odds, Wheeler told Capital that he placed a £5,000 bet on Croatia at 11 to 8 to win their 2018 football World Cup semi-final against the Three Lions, netting a tidy £11,875 when they triumphed. Wheeler added that there are exceptions to this rule. “Just occasionally I want England to win — I wanted them to win that recent Test match against Australia!”

Radical choice

Dame Helena Morrissey, the outgoing head of personal investing at Legal & General Investment Management, isn’t buying into the hype that she will be the next Bank of England governor. At a Conservative Party conference fringe event on the future of the workplace, she was introduced by Kate Andrews, associate director of free market think-tank the Institute for Economic Affairs, as having been reported as Mark Carney’s successor. But Morrissey told Capital she isn’t booking a taxi to Threadneedle Street just yet, saying: “Stranger things have happened, but I think I might be too radical.” We shall see…

Royal phone

The Association for Financial Markets in Europe took over the Merchant Taylors’ Hall for a bash to celebrate its 10th anniversary and the departure of chief executive Simon Lewis. Prior to leading the group, which represents the region’s banks, Lewis worked as press secretary to Gordon Brown and the Queen. At the party, which drew the likes of Mark Carney, Xavier Rolet and chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority Andrew Bailey, AFME chairman Michael Cole-Fontayn recalled in a speech: “He was the first ever head of communications secretary to Her Majesty and the royal family. Rumour has it that the first day he turned up in the new role of communications at Palace Gate, they thought he was there to mend the phones.” Buckingham Palace might do well to have Lewis on speed dial now, given recent developments between the royals and the press.

Nation state

England rugby winger Ruaridh McConnochie marked his World Cup debut with a try that helped secure victory against the U.S.A. Watching in Japan was father Rennie McConnochie, who is a proud Scotsman and head of global banks at Aberdeen Standard Investments. McConnochie declined to comment when Capital emailed to ask if he is cheering for England or Scotland during the World Cup. But with Scotland slated to play New Zealand if they do make it to the quarter finals, it’s probably just as well for the McConnochie clan that England will likely avoid playing Scotland during the tournament.