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WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—The embattled Presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway will leave her post at the White House, effective immediately, and begin a new job at the Kremlin on Friday, the White House and the Kremlin have confirmed.

Conway, who has served as a counsellor to President Donald Trump, will serve as a counsellor to President Vladimir Putin.

The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, announced the news in sombre fashion. “Everyone here is happy for Kellyanne, but our nation has lost a great liar,” she said.

Conway told reporters that she was excited to work in “a country that doesn’t have dumb old laws like the Hatch Act.”

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“As a federal employee, there were so many restrictions on getting involved in American elections, but at the Kremlin that’ll be my main job,” she said.

House Democrats Inch Along on Impeachment

June 14, 2019 | News | No Comments

As divided as House Democrats might be about impeachment—around sixty members, a small but growing minority, are thought to support beginning proceedings now—the caucus is united in support of facilitating the House’s ongoing investigations of President Trump. On Tuesday, the House voted to allow individual committees to sue the Trump Administration without the approval of the full chamber. The vote comes a day after the Justice Department agreed to turn over to the Judiciary Committee some of the documents that informed the special counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusions on obstruction of justice, in a deal that was evidently reached to avoid a contempt resolution against Attorney General William Barr. It also came amid reports that the House Judiciary Committee chairman, Jerrold Nadler, is privately pressing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to begin impeachment proceedings. As Pelosi prefers, House Democrats are instead inching along with their investigations.

Monday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, on “Lessons from the Mueller Report,” was, as Nadler said in his opening statement, “the first in a series of hearings designed to unpack the work of the special counsel and related matters.” The witnesses included the former U.S. Attorneys Joyce White Vance, of Alabama’s Northern District, and Barbara McQuade, of Michigan’s Eastern District, who were invited to highlight and reëmphasize some of the Mueller report’s key conclusions on obstruction of justice. John Dean, the White House counsel for the Nixon Administration, was invited to draw parallels between Trump’s conduct and the Watergate scandal, in which Dean acted as both a participant and, later, a critical witness for investigators. The guest list should have signified the seriousness with which Democrats are taking the Mueller report’s findings, even though they have not compelled the Party’s leadership to pursue impeachment. But throughout the day, most of the seats on the Democratic side of the dais were empty, and several of the Democrats who showed up moved in and out of the hearing as it went on.

Republicans, by contrast, mostly stayed put, taking alternating swings at Dean’s reputation and his relevance to the committee’s investigation. In his opening remarks, Doug Collins, the Republican ranking member, jabbed at Dean and Democrats with reference to President Barack Obama’s dismissal of Mitt Romney’s 2012 warnings about Russia. “Just a few years ago, it was brought up by one of our candidates that Russia was a threat, and the former President Obama said that the eighties are asking for their foreign policy back,” he scoffed. “Well, guess what? This committee is now hearing from the seventies, and they want their star witness back.”

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In his testimony, Dean stated what many commentators have surmised since the release of the Mueller report: that the special counsel’s findings were a directive for congressional action. “In many ways,” he said, “the Mueller report is for President Trump what the so-called Watergate roadmap, officially titled the ‘Grand Jury Report and Recommendation Concerning Transmission of Evidence to the House of Representatives,’ was for President Richard Nixon.” The two former U.S. Attorneys reiterated the conclusion shared by hundreds of former federal prosecutors in an open letter last month. “Based on my experience in over twenty-five years as a federal prosecutor,” Joyce Vance told the committee, “I support the conclusion that more than a thousand of my former colleagues came to, and that I co-signed in a public statement last month, saying that if anyone other than a President of the United States committed this conduct, he would be under indictment today for multiple acts of obstruction of justice.”

In defense of the hearing, Dean argued that the committee’s efforts to elevate Mueller’s findings have been meaningful. “I think this committee does have a role and it is adding something that the special counsel could not, and that’s public education,” he said. “This report has not been widely read in the United States. It has not even been widely read in the Congress, from some of my conversations. But I think it’s a very important function that the committee is serving by bringing these matters to public attention.”

It remains to be seen whether the public, apprised of Mueller’s findings, will urge Democrats to do more than hold informational hearings about them.


13th Jun 2019

Just one month after Sophie Turner married Joe Jonas in a Las Vegas chapel wedding officiated by an Elvis Presley impersonator shortly after the Billboard Music Awards on May 2, the British actress has hosted a multiple-day bachelorette party in Europe. 

If you find yourself wondering why she’s hosting a bachelorette party after the fact, it’s important to note that she’s currently celebrating ahead of her second wedding, set to take place in the French summer. 

“Their real wedding will be in France this summer, but they thought this would be a fun way to make it legal,” a source told E! News at the time. “They wanted to have it planned out in advance to give friends a chance to come. It was a fun night in Vegas and it worked out perfectly.”

How is the Game of Thrones star celebrating? With Maisie Williams and a close group of friends on a private jet tour taking in Benidorm, Berlin and Prague of course. According to E! News, the bachelorette party began in London following a Jonas Brothers concert. 

“Sophie flew to Spain four days ago on a private jet with her closest girlfriends,” a source told the publication. “Sophie rented out a luxurious penthouse suite at the hotel. Half of the girls are in her wedding party but they are all very close girlfriends of Sophie.”

Per said source, while Maisie helped organise the celebration, Turner took care of the majority of the bachelorette as she “wanted her friends to have a lot fun and wanted it to be a huge party weekend.”

Instagram posts from a series of the actress’s friends confirm that Turner is wearing a bride-to-be sash, while both she and her friends sport matching outfits and colorful wigs as they paint the town red. 

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“The girls have been hitting up nightclubs and dancing up a storm both in the clubs and at their hotel near the coast,” a second insider has told E! News. “They spent one day recovering by the rooftop pool at the Soho House in Berlin. They all lounged in matching robes and enjoyed drinks at sunset.”

“Now they are in Prague walking around the beautiful city and admiring all the old architecture,” the source added. “It’s a fun group of girls and Sophie is having a great time just being with her best friends in so many different places. They are really bonding and making it a memorable few days she won’t forget.”

It is 2019 and cheerleaders are still a thing in the National Basketball Association. The Chicago Luvabulls. The Memphis Grizz Girls. The Charlotte Honey Bees. And this is the N.B.A., the most progressive league in professional sports, with the most enlightened commissioner. The good news is that the best broadcaster in the game is Doris Burke. This has been the case now for years. There is no one remotely close.

As a basketball analyst for ESPN and ABC, Burke is the smartest, best prepared, most original on-air voice that the game possesses. She is as insightful about the stratagems taking shape on the court as she is about the emotional currents in the locker room. The question, then, is: Why is Burke relegated to being a role player, doing hurried sideline and post-buzzer interviews during the Finals while the announcers Mike Breen, Mark Jackson, and Jeff Van Gundy are left to dominate the airwaves at courtside?

You can be sure that when Game 6 of the Finals begins, Burke will know more than anyone about the murkiest subplot so far in the series between the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors: What’s the story with Kevin Durant? Why did he play hurt in Game 5, and who, if anyone, should take the blame for his ruptured Achilles, an injury that could put him on the sidelines for a year and cost him untold millions of dollars as a free agent?

Van Gundy has called Burke “the LeBron James of sportscasters.” A former high-school and college point guard, Burke, who is fifty-three, has been studying the intricacies and evolution of basketball for decades. It was once said of Ginger Rogers that she did everything Fred Astaire did, only backward and in high heels. Ditto for Doris Burke. My favorite video clip of her shows her walking along a waxed N.B.A. court in high heels, carrying papers and a notebook in her left hand while dribbling a basketball with her right. Suddenly, she swings the ball around her back and picks up the dribble with the same right hand. Steph Curry could not have done it much better—and let him try it in heels.

James, Durant, Curry—everyone in the league seems to respect Burke and to await her inquiries about the game or the state of their spirits (elated or crushed) with genuine esteem. Real fans do, too. Burke’s interviews are passed around online as treasured memes. In 2016, at a game in Toronto, Drake, a crazed courtside Raptors supporter, wore a T-shirt emblazoned with Burke’s picture and the phrase “WOMAN CRUSH EVERYDAY.” Deadspin has pronounced Burke “the best damn basketball broadcaster there is.”

Burke’s style is hardly flamboyant. She doesn’t have a memorable or eccentric voice like Johnny Most or Marv Albert, and she doesn’t do shtick. Burke is earnest, prepped, serious. She goes at the work the way that Elizabeth Warren has been going at the Democratic primary campaign. She is determined to succeed on the basis of substance, agree with her or not.

There are many (depending on your definition of “many”) women working now as play-by-play and color commentators in the N.C.A.A., N.B.A., N.F.L., and M.L.B., but it has not been even remotely easy for women in the business to get past the old prejudices. Bill Simmons, a gifted basketball writer and sports podcaster, and hardly a dinosaur of the Dick Young era, wrote about Burke on, in 2008, with a condescension he’d grow to regret: “She’s doing a fine job, but does it make me a sexist that I can’t listen to Doris Burke analyze NBA playoff games without thinking, ‘Woman talking woman talking woman talking woman talking . . .&nbsp’ the entire time?” A decade later, Simmons answered his own question, saying that Burke was, in fact, a “fantastic analyst” and that it was “embarrassing” that she was working the sidelines during the playoffs.

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There is a long history to all of this. For half of forever, women had a nearly impossible time breaking into sportswriting and broadcasting, suffering endless indignities and worse. In 1978, Melissa Ludtke, of Sports Illustrated, brought a lawsuit against the M.L.B., which was resisting her right to report the baseball beat with equal access to locker rooms, clubhouses, and other malodorous sacred places.

Leigh Montville, a sports columnist for the Boston Globe, interrogated Ludtke’s right to be in baseball clubhouses. “I have only a few questions for the lady,” Montville wrote. “I don’t care about all the wink and leer jokes about a grown woman going into a room where grown men are undressing. I just want to know if the lady is doing this job because she really wants to do this job…. Is she for real? Is she serious?” And then came a long litany of qualifying questions: “Did she ever spit in a baseball glove? Was her life absolutely dominated by sports when she was a kid?” And on and on he went.

Ludtke said at the time that most people understood her case as “girls wanting to go into a locker room and see men naked” rather than one of equal access. She won in court. But even after that decision, Jerome Holtzman, of the Chicago Sun-Times, who was one of the best-known baseball writers of his era, was resistant to the change. “I suppose the fact that this was an all-male world was what made it so exciting to me at first,” he told Roger Angell, of The New Yorker, for a piece from 1979 called “Sharing the Beat.” “And now that it’s being invaded and eroded it’s much less attractive. Maybe I’m a chauvinist—I don’t know. The press box used to be a male preserve—that was its charm. I’d rather not have a woman as a seatmate at a World Series game. It wouldn’t be as much fun. I’ve never met a woman who knew as much baseball as a man.”

But things changed all the same. Not long after, in the mid-eighties, I was a rookie on the sports staff of the Washington Post, a department run by George Solomon and featuring Tony Kornheiser, Tom Boswell, Michael Wilbon, and Dave Kindred—and Jane Leavy, Christine Brennan, and Sally Jenkins.

Jenkins, a rigorous reporter and a witty writer who still does a regular column for the Post, told me that as recently as last year the beat writers for all four of the pro sports teams in D.C. were women. “The thing is that in sportswriting the breakthroughs came at least twenty years ago and more,” Jenkins said. “But television sports has far more trip wires than sports journalism. Sports TV is still Wall Street. And there is no real change unless there is mandate from a guy on high. All the breakthroughs—and here you can name whatever women behind microphones—are decisions made by a single man at the top who wants to be Branch Rickey.”

On sports television, the early breakthroughs included Mary Carillo, Lesley Visser, and Robin Roberts. But women are all too often still judged by their looks. “Are they attractive enough? But if they’re too attractive, then maybe you’re a Twinkie,” Jenkins said. And their voices, too. Are they “shrill” or “squeaky” or do they sound like “your first wife in divorce court”? Which sounds awfully familiar to anyone who followed the Clinton campaigns, in 2008 and 2016, or those of the many women running now.

“Thankfully, Doris knows how to deal with all of that,” Jenkins said. “She’s sure-footed. She’s confident. She’s not trying to appeal to anybody on any other basis other than knowledge. She’s a basketball junkie and she’s an athlete. She comes from that pure place. She’s not trying to be an entertainer. She’s just trying to be observant and tell the truth.” YouTube is filled with examples of Burke’s unshowy, revealing interviews, including her moment with LeBron James after he brought the N.B.A. title to Cleveland, in 2016—the greatest individual performance of the era.

Burke has absorbed her share of retro nastiness, even on the air. During the 2013 playoffs, Gregg Popovich, an otherwise masterly coach of the San Antonio Spurs, was having a rough game and decided it was fine to treat Burke to some mumbly disdain. When she asked him to elaborate on the troubles his team had been facing in the first half, he would answer only with one word, “Turnovers.” He just let her hang there. But when Popovich tried to pull the same stunt four years later, Burke was having none of it and cut short the interview, saying, “Happy Mother’s Day to me, I’m taking the reprieve, sir.”

Doris Burke was born Doris Sable. She comes from a family of modest means. When she was seven, the Sables moved from Long Island to Manasquan, a shore town in New Jersey. The previous homeowners had left behind a basketball. Doris picked it up and didn’t often put it down. At the local high school, she led her team to a 71–10 record over three seasons. She was such a deft point guard and such a consistent scorer that she won a full scholarship to study and play ball at Providence College. She was All-Big East. After graduation, her coach, Bob Foley, asked her to stay on the coaching staff, according to a profile on She then started broadcasting locally, first doing women’s games, then men’s, and made her way up the ladder, eventually to the W.N.B.A. and the N.B.A.

Last year, Burke signed a five-year contract with ESPN, but she radiates the sense that her time is not unlimited. “We still have a long way to go,” she told Sports Illustrated last season. “Because the reality is that I’m fifty-two years old. And how many fifty-five to sixty-year-old women do you see in sports broadcasting? How many? I see a lot of sixty-year-old men broadcasting.”

“Listen, I want to be considered attractive,” she went on. “Am I going to undergo surgery to make myself younger? No. So the wrinkles you see on my face and the signs of age that I have, they’re going to be there, period, and it’s up to the networks to decide.” The decision seems easy. Come next year, Doris Burke ought to be the lead analyst straight through to the last game of the N.B.A. Finals.

Film has always been shaped by technology, from the advent of sound in the 1920s to Technicolor in the 1930s and 3D in the 1950s. Initially dismissed as expensive gimmicks, these tools took years to perfect, but eventually became ubiquitous. The 21st century has already seen its fair share of game changers – 4D infiltrating traditional cinemas, the rise of streaming platforms – but in an increasingly competitive marketplace, the race is on to discover the next big thing.

Nadira Azermai believes she’s found it. The CEO of Belgium-based artificial intelligence company ScriptBook, Azermai is at the forefront of a quiet revolution that has long been brewing in Hollywood. “This is a multibillion-dollar industry where 87 per cent of movies currently in cinemas are losing money,” Azermai tells “The process of greenlighting films still relies on gut instinct. There’s no technology, no objective metric. That’s where we come in.”

Image credit: Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

Founded in 2015, ScriptBook specialises in screenplay analysis. Production companies and studios can upload scripts into a system that digests them in six minutes, producing detailed reports that calculate likeability ratings for its characters, predictions about its target demographic, audience satisfaction metrics and even its IMDB rating. The crucial component for Azermai’s clients? The financial forecast, which determines a film’s global box office with an 86 per cent success rate.

But Azermai didn’t stop there. “AI can do so much more than analyse and predict,” she says. “It can also tell the perfect story.” So began ScriptBook’s phase two: automated story generation. Azermai and her team built a generator and fed it 30,000 scripts. “In the beginning, the output was weird AI speech, but we slowly trained the system to write. Now it can produce full-length feature films.”

Another Dream. Image credit: Netflix 

Writers can give the system keywords and topics, choose a length and assign traits for their characters, leaving the system to fill in the blanks. Azermai believes that co-authorship between humans and machines will soon become the norm. “If you have writer’s block, you can upload what you’ve got into the system and let the generator inspire you,” she says. “It’s capable of reading what you’ve written and suggesting the next sentence, or paragraph or the next 10 pages.”

So is it only a matter of time before we see the first big-screen production penned and analysed by a computer? “You probably already have,” she says. “When studios come to us, we have to sign contracts saying we won’t use their names.” Azermai attributes their resistance to an unwillingness to be seen to be relying on technology, which is still perceived as a threat to the creative industries.  

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. Image credit: Netflix

ScriptBook isn’t the only company making strides in the field. Los Angeles firm Cinelytic has a system that allows users to input a potential cast for a project and then swap actors to see if that alters a film’s projected box-office success. Israeli start-up Vault determines the target audience by analysing how a film’s trailer is received online, and Boston’s Pilot Movies offers an app that predicts profits. Many are keen to go further: Disney has humanoid stunt doubles, AI-driven animation is common and director Tony Kaye has spoken about casting a robot in his upcoming film . As the nature of scriptwriting changes, visuals are following suit.

With this comes virtual reality, another medium on the cusp of going mainstream. “People have been saying VR is the future of film since the 1970s,” says filmmaker, artist and creative director of Amsterdam-based Ado Ato Pictures Tamara Shogaolu. “But things are definitely changing.” Shogaolu is a long-time advocate of immersive interactive experiences, and her most recent work, an animated VR documentary called which debuted at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, is a testament to the power of the form. Using audio recordings, 3D animation and hand-drawn illustrations viewed through a headset, it follows an Egyptian lesbian couple who seek asylum in the Netherlands after the 2011 revolution. “I was living in Egypt during the Arab Spring and collected oral histories from women and marginalised communities,” Shogaolu explains. “I followed them for years afterwards and wanted to find the right way to tell their stories.” The result was a series called , of which is just one part.  

Annabel Jones and Charlie Booker. Image credit: Getty Images

“In , you’re not a passive viewer,” Shogaolu says, explaining that participants must follow the couple and complete tasks to unlock the next chapter of their story. The most affecting scene takes place in a supermarket where they talk about their experiences of homophobia at home, as well as the racism they face after moving to a new country. “When you watch it, you’re standing right next to them, you hear their voices and see people around them turning to stare. It captures the feeling of being a minority like nothing else. It makes you invest in the narrative so much more than when watching a traditional film.” The response from users at Tribeca was fascinating. “So many people, especially those not from minority backgrounds, said they never knew you could be stared at like that. I was surprised because as a person of colour it happens to me all the time. With VR, you can really move an audience and change their perceptions.”

Though film festivals have been quick to embrace VR – Tribeca’s Immersive programme, Sundance’s New Frontier and Venice’s Virtual Reality – accessibility remains an issue. “These showcases rely on you living in certain parts of the world and paying to attend events, but I want VR to reach as many people as possible,” Shogaolu says. Her solution was to work on a simplified version of that can be uploaded to the Ado Ato Pictures website. There’s also the portable Oculus Quest gaming headset, dubbed “the iPod of VR”, and social VR, which will soon allow multiple users to wear headsets and interact in a virtual world.    

Of course, the industry has already gone beyond prophesying when it comes to interactive entertainment. The biggest hit to date is Netflix’s , the brainchild of the series’ creators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones (above). The interactive film is centred on Stefan, a programmer in 1980s England who adapts a choose your own adventure book into a video game. Viewers are asked to make choices that take you down divergent narrative paths: encourage him to open up about his feelings and he shares a memory about his mother; tell Stefan that you’re watching him on Netflix and he immediately calls his therapist. “It became quite meta,” Jones tells “The interactive element worked because it added a layer to the story. The viewer is given the impression that they can control this character, but then the character becomes aware of it.”

Blackmirror: Bandersnatch. Image credit: Netflix

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Of course, the industry has already gone beyond prophesying when it comes to interactive entertainment. The biggest hit to date is Netflix’s , the brainchild of the series’ creators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones. The interactive film is centred on Stefan, a programmer in 1980s England who adapts a choose your own adventure book into a video game. Viewers are asked to make choices that take you down divergent narrative paths: encourage him to open up about his feelings and he shares a memory about his mother; tell Stefan that you’re watching him on Netflix and he immediately calls his therapist. “It became quite meta,” Jones tells “The interactive element worked because it added a layer to the story. The viewer is given the impression that they can control this character, but then the character becomes aware of it.”     

Jones’s greatest fear was that the final product would seem gimmicky, in the spirit of early interactive films like 1983’s “We poked fun at that concept when we asked the viewer to choose between Frosties and Sugar Puffs,” she adds. “Our film would never stay at that level, but in early interactive cinema some of the choices you made were that anodyne. The format was used simply because it was a novelty. We can’t do that anymore.”

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Image credit: Netflix

Netflix may not share her concerns. The success of prompted the streaming giant to commission more interactive film and TV. , an interactive series featuring Bear Grylls, followed in April and next year will see (above) return for an interactive special. Does Jones see the gamification of entertainment becoming the new normal? “Not necessarily,” she says. “It’s still arduous, expensive and time-consuming to produce. It works well for unique ideas, but I see them existing alongside film and video games as alternative methods of storytelling.”  

Shogaolu agrees. “People try to compare VR and interactivity to film, thinking one will replace the other, but I think it’s more like the relationship between film and theatre,” she says. “It’s a totally different experience.” Will 2020 be the year that these tools, so long in development, reach the average viewer on a more regular basis? Azermai thinks so. “We’re currently in the era of fine-tuning. Everything has been discovered, but we need to learn how to use them to serve the narrative, or to subvert it.” With so many available formats, the possibilities are endless.

Princess Diana’s engagement ring
Prince William proposed to Middleton in 2010 with his mother’s 14 solitaire diamond and 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire engagement ring, set in 18-karat gold. The ring was selected from the official royal jeweller, Garrard, by Prince Charles and Diana following their engagement in 1981. 

Gold wedding band
The traditional gold wedding band that sits neatly beside the Duchess’s engagement ring was made from the royal family’s collection of Welsh yellow gold and is similar to the same worn by both the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II. 

Nizam of Hyderabad necklace
While the Duchess is not know for wearing extravagant and over-the-top pieces, she did step out in an opulent diamond necklace—a wedding present gifted to the Queen by the Nizam of Hyderabad—when attending an event at the National Portrait Gallery.

Gold charm bracelet
Middleton is often seen wearing a charm bracelet gifted to her by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, when she wed Prince William, a gold piece complete with a “C” for each of their names alongside a coronet and a crown. 

Eternity band
Prince William presented the mother of his children a diamond eternity band following the birth of their son, Prince George. The ring now sits beside her gold wedding band and diamond encrusted engagement ring.

Cartier Halo tiara
Middleton wore the famous Cartier Halo tiara complete with 739 brilliant diamonds and 149 baton diamonds on her wedding day, a piece originally gifted by King George VI to the Queen Mother who then passed it down to Queen Elizabeth II on her 18th birthday. 

Cambridge Lover’s Knot tiara
In 2015, the Duchess had the honour of wearing the Cambridge Lover’s Knot tiara, the very same Princess Diana sported frequently. Diamond encrusted and complete with a number of large pearls, the Garrard tiara was commissioned by Queen Mary and remains in Queen Elizabeth II’s personal collection.

Ballon Bleu de Cartier watch
In celebration of their third wedding anniversary, Prince William gifted Middleton the Ballon Bleu de Cartier watch complete with sapphire detailing—a timepiece quite similar to both Princess Diana’s and his own. 

Rose gold ring 
What can only be described as one of the first gifts of many, Prince William presented the Duchess with a rose gold Victorian ring complete with each of their birthstones—garnets for the Prince and pearls for Middleton—during their studies at the University of St. Andrews, a piece she later wore to her graduation. 

Maple-leaf brooch
The maple-leaf brooch Middleton wore on her tour of North America in 2011 was a gift from King George VI to the Queen Mother in 1939 and has been worn by the likes of Queen Elizabeth II and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.

New Zealand fern brooch
The Duchess has been spotted wearing the Queen’s fern brooch on a number of occasions, a piece the Monarch was given on her coronation world tour in 1953 by a New Zealand women’s group. 

Sapphire and diamond fringed earrings
Sapphires are a royal favourite and feature in a number of crown jewels, including the Queen Mother’s fringed earrings Middleton donned at the Women in Hedge Funds dinner in 2015.

Sapphire and diamond earrings
The Duchess was also gifted a pair of sapphire and diamond earrings from Princess Diana’s personal collection by Prince William following their engagement. Middleton then had the gift—that matched her engagement ring—customised into a pair of drop earrings. 

Lotus Flower tiara
Middleton has stepped out in the Lotus Flower tiara on a couple occasions, each at an official event at Buckingham Palace. The wedding gift to the Queen Mother in 1923 was reworked from a necklace to tiara and then passed down to Princess Margaret before she passed. 

Amethyst earrings
In celebration of their first official Christmas together, Prince William gifted his new wife a pair of green amethyst earrings designed by Kiki McDonough in 2011, which she then wore to the day’s church service. 

Matching yellow and white diamond jewellery
Following her wedding to Prince William, Prince Charles gifted the Duchess a set of matching yellow and white gold pieces consisting of a ring, a bracelet and a pair of drop earrings she has since worn on multiple occasions.

While it’s been said that Middleton first wore the Royal Family Order brooch to a Diplomatic Reception just last year, the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace she attended in October 2018 was the first time she was photographed wearing it. “I can confirm that Her Majesty awarded The Duchess of Cambridge with the Order in 2017,” a spokesman for Kensington Palace told Vanity Fair of the diamond-encrusted brooch complete with a small painting of the Monarch, which also happens to be the greatest honour the Queen can give to a female member of the royal family.

Custom green tourmalines, green amethysts and diamond Kiki McDonough earrings
Rumoured to have been gifted to the duchess in celebration of Princess Charlotte’s birth by her husband Prince William, these custom Kiki McDonough earrings have only been spotted on Middleton a handful of times including St. Patrick’s Day 2019.

The Shamrock brooch
Loaned to members of the royal family by the Irish Guards in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, Middleton first wore the piece in 2011 and is reported to have exclusively worn it since then. Believed to have been created by Cartier, the brooch features a single emerald at the centre of the textured leaves. Previously worn by the Queen Mother and Princess Anne also, Middleton has worn the brooch on several visits to Northern Ireland as well as St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. 

Pearl and diamond drop earrings
The earrings were reportedly a wedding gift from Collingwood jewellers to Kate Middleton’s late mother-in-law, Princess Diana. According to Hello! Princess Diana debuted the earrings a month before she tied the knot with Prince Charles in 1981.
Kate Middleton wore the pearl and diamond drop jewels for the first time in 2017 and was spotted wearing them in October 2018 to a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace. The duchess donned the earrings for a third time to attend the Queen’s annual garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2019. For this outing the duchess paired the earrings with a pink Alexander McQueen coat dress and matching hat.

Bahrain pearl drop earrings
When Kate Middleton attended Queen Elizabeth II’s annual Trooping the Colour parade in celebration of her birthday on June 8, 2019, she opted to wear a pair of earrings borrowed from the monarch herself. The duchess sported Queen Elizabeth II’s Bahrain pearl drop earrings for the occasion, which she previously wore while attending a church service during her visit to Balmoral Castle in Scotland in August 2018. Per People, said diamond-encrusted earrings were reportedly crafted from a shell containing seven pearls, which was a wedding gift to The Queen from the ruler of Bahrain in 1947.

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Image credit: Getty Images

What happens behind the scenes of our favourite television shows and movies can be almost as dramatic as what goes on in front of the screen. But good acting means the audience never knows.

In fact, the acting can be so stellar and the chemistry (whether love or the opposite) so electric, on-screen couples, the object of a character’s affection or best friends on shows and movies are often thought to be in love or the best of friends in real life.

Sure, there are couples who have met and fallen in love on set — Rose Leslie and Kit Harington are one such example, the couple tied the knot in 2018 after meeting on the set of HBO’s iconic show; Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds are another, meeting on the set of 2011 superhero flick and marrying in 2012 — but it turns out there are a number of actors who can’t stand the sight of their on-screen love interest once the cameras stop rolling.

The same goes for on-screen buddies, sometimes, like in the case of Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker on Sex and the City, even though they played best friends in the show, in real life, the opposite was true.

A recent admission by Vampire Diaries’ alumni Nina Dobrev (who played Elena Gilbert on the show) about her feelings towards her on-screen love interest, Stefan Salvatore, played by Paul Wesley, reminded us of this very fact. The relationships we see, believe in and are invested in on shows and movies are just the actors, acting.

Read on for Hollywood’s most surprising on-set feuds and friends, including actors who played rivals on the screen but stan each other in real life.

Image credit: Getty Images

Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley, Vampire DiariesFor many seasons of the popular CW show, the plot centred around the relationship between Nina Dobrev’s character, Elena Gilbert, and Paul Wesley’s character, Stefan Salvatore. Theirs was a love for the history books, with so much on-screen chemistry between the actors, E! News reports Dobrev told podcast , everyone thought they were a real-life couple. “I remember everyone would walk up to me after the show aired and they’d be like, ‘Are you and Paul dating in real life?’”

The 30-year-old actress admitted on the podcast that in fact the opposite was true. “We despised each other so much, that it read as love. We really just didn’t get along the first maybe five months of shooting.”

However, as fans of both Dobrev and Wesley will know these feelings have since turned to friendship, with both Dobrev and Wesley often posting snaps to Instagram hanging out together. The actress confirmed this saying they’re “really good friends” now and “hang out a lot”.

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Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling, The Notebook

The Notebook is, without doubt, one of the most beloved romantic movies of all time. The 2004 film adaptation of the 1996 novel by Nicholas Sparks starring Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling as lovestruck couple Allie and Noah never fails to squeeze hard on the heart strings and bring a tear to the eye no matter how many times we’ve watched it (who’s counting anyway?).

With the level of chemistry between these two actors, it seemed impossible not to imagine that they were, in fact, madly in love in real life as well as on the screen. And while they did end up dating for a few years after meeting on The Notebook set, it wasn’t love at first sight. In fact, it was reportedly loathing at first sight.

During an interview with VH1 back in 2014, the film’s director, Nick Cassavetes, revealed that the co-stars dislike of each other was so strong Gosling asked to have McAdams replaced. “They were really not getting along one day on set,” Cassavetes said, “And he’s [Ryan] doing a scene with Rachel and he says [to me], ‘Would you take her [Rachel] out of here and bring in another actress to read off camera with me? I can’t. I can’t do it with her. I’m just not getting anything from this.’”

Cassavetes said he took Gosling, McAdams and a producer into a room, he came out and left the three of them in there, the two had it out, “screaming and yelling at each other,” but then they came out and said “All right let’s do this.” And the rest is history.

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Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, Romeo + Juliet

The jury is out on whether these star-crossed lovers actually disliked each other while filming Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 take on the Shakespeare classic. There were rumours Danes found DiCaprio “immature” and the actors avoided each other as soon as the cameras stopped rolling. But, in 2018 Danes gave an interview and when asked what it was like working with DiCaprio she said she had to consciously make an effort not to have a crush on him. “I couldn’t really have a crush on the guy I was professionally having a crush on!”

So, whether Danes found DiCaprio immature or was staying way to avoid crushing on her co-star, it’s impossible to know.

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Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning, Twilight

Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan) may have found love, for a time, with her co-star and love interest Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen) on the set of the Twilight films but that’s not the only relationship that blossomed on the set. Kristen Stewart’s character, Bella, and Dakota Fanning’s character (Jane) were bitter enemies in the films, but in real life? The best of friends.

The actresses met on the set of the blockbuster fantasy franchise and went on to star together in The Runaways as well become brilliant friends. “I can honestly say that my friendship with Kristen [Stewart] is one of the most special bonds in my life. She has held my hair back as I told her (of) heartbreak, she has always been there for me when I have needed her most,” Fanning reportedly said at a 2016 event in Hollywood. Stewart reportedly echoed her feelings, telling Fanning at the event “I love you so much.”

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Shannen Doherty and Jennie Garth, Beverly Hills, 90210

Shannen Doherty and Jennie Garth played best friends, Brenda and Kelly respectively, who were also sometimes rivals on the original series about teens growing up in one of the most famous post codes on the planet.

Doherty left the show in 1994 after the fourth season amidst a swirl of rumours that she had had some tricky on-set relationships with the other cast members, particularly Garth.

In an interview in 2015 fellow cast member and Brenda and Kelly’s other best friend, Tori Spelling (Donna), confirmed that Garth and Doherty were not, in fact, the best of friends and that in one instance the male cast members broke up a “fistfight” between the two actresses. In the interview Spelling also reportedly said she asked her father, Aaron Spelling, the show’s producer, to axe Doherty from the cast.

But, this story has a happy ending. In the intervening years it appears Garth and Doherty (and Spelling) have become friends, with the three back on board and working together on the upcoming reboot of .

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Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, Fifty Shades of Grey

Playing madly-in-love kinky couple Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades film trilogy based on the best-selling books is rumoured to have been a stretch for these two actors.

Rumours swirled around each movie in the franchise that the lack of on-screen chemistry which many fans commented on, was a result of the actors not being very keen on each other even as friends. Neither actor has confirmed these rumours.

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Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall, Sex and the City

Sex and the City was at its core about four best friends navigating life in New York City. The friendship between the four fabulous characters, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte (Kristin Davis), Cynthia (Miranda), was so key and inspiring, in its heyday in the late ‘90s, early ‘00s, chic bars and brunch spaces were filled with tight knit groups of stylish, strong career women bonding over cosmos and bad dates.

However, it’s been reported that despite all signs pointing to these four women being the best of friends, there was no love lost between Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall. The show’s writer and director, Michael Patrick King, shared in an interview on the Origins podcast that their relationship was never great and in some ways it stemmed from Sarah Jessica Parker being the top billed actress, while Cattrall thought she should have top billing or at least equal billing. King said Cattrall claimed her character was “everyone’s favourite.”

Parker has since commented that she is “not in a catfight with anybody” while Cattrall publicly posted on Instagram that Parker is not her “friend”.


13th Jun 2019

For any young designer, gaining favour in the fashion industry can be a long, arduous—and, contrary to popular belief, unglamorous—road. Trends are fleeting; styles evolve with every season; and opportunities to show one’s collections to the right buyers, stylists and decision makers in power are few and far between.

That’s why with the right mentor on side, a moment in the spotlight is easier to reach—a reality Kanye West realised while Chicago-native Maisie Schloss was working for his brand Yeezy. Officially marking the launch of the rapper-cum-designer’s fashion incubator program (Schloss is West’s first seed funded protégé), Schloss debuted her label Maisie Wilen last week in Los Angeles. To celebrate the occasion, the up-and-coming womenswear designer chatted to Vogue about her experiences working with West, the inspiration behind her first collection and the process of designing her own line.

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“Presenting my debut collection has been so exciting and exhilarating!” the designer reflects to Vogue. The collection in question, which features 27 pieces and is heavy on printed stockings, textural play and bodycon dresses, is born out of an interesting symbiosis of ideas, apparent in Schloss’s diverse references. “I was inspired by rhythmic gymnastics and robots both aesthetically and conceptually,” she explains. Breaking it down even further, Schloss illuminates: “in my process I’m very regimented, systematic, even repetitive yet my final product feels very organic and lighthearted”—a juxtaposition, she introspects, “which mirrors the nature of the two inspirations.”

An alumnus of Parsons School of Design in New York City, Schloss is hyper-aware of the ways in which her studies have inflected her designs. She is especially considerate of her clothing’s ability to be worn easily, reflecting thoughtfulness about the real life application of apparel that is so often lost on high fashion runways. “Parsons trained me to think practically about what I’m designing,” she reflects. “To draw back and see what I was making as not only a piece of art or design but also as clothing. That’s why I champion making clothes that are not only interesting but also what women will really want to wear.”

Image credit: Sam Massey

This attitude infiltrates every touchpoint of the Maisie Wilen brand, from pricing to the kind of woman Schloss hopes to portray. “The Maisie Wilen woman is creative and confident with unconventional taste,” Schloss sums up of her wearer. “She is fashion-conscious yet idiosyncratic, sexy, and playful with her style.”

This vein of playfulness is not lost on the clothing’s pricing. Pieces in Schloss’s first collection range between $144 to $1368, highlighting that the womenswear designer is alert to the importance of democratising fashion and making it accessible to a wide net of consumers. “I want to make clothes that are affordable to as many people as possible while maintaining responsible production practices,” she emphasies, “maintaining a standard of ethics should be the standard for all brands [and] my values are communicated through conscious business practices.”

Undoubtedly influenced by her experiences working with West, Schloss is quick to acknowledge the formative role the popular tastemaker and music icon has played in catapulting her brand onto the industry stage. Reflecting on her time at Yeezy, Schloss admits, “[it is] an amazing place to work because you are able to have visibility and input into a diverse variety of projects. By embracing the wide range of opportunities I was able to work from my initial assistant role up to womenswear designer.”

Image credit: Sam Massey

On being selected as West’s first protégé, Schloss exclaims: “when Kanye offered to back my own project I was floored! Working with Kanye is truly amazing. He’s been very supportive of me and really encouraged me to pursue my unique vision and aesthetic.”

At the same time, Schloss is conscious that developing her own brand is a whole new undertaking, with a whole new set of challenges and rewards. “Working for my own brand has made me feel both indulgent and vulnerable; I’m really putting my work, my aesthetic, and myself out to the world. I’ve loved the experience and feel extremely lucky to be in this position.”

Last Friday, Britain’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, resigned as the head of the Conservative Party, formally setting off a leadership contest in which the Party’s members will choose her successor. May’s premiership ended in failure, thanks to her inability to get a Brexit deal through the House of Commons. As a reluctant “remainer” during the 2016 Brexit referendum, she worked out a compromise with Europe, but in doing so she infuriated the “hard Brexiters” in her party, who want to leave with no deal. Meanwhile, the new Brexit Party—which is dedicated to insuring that Britain leaves the European Union—dominated the Tories in European elections last month. Now the Conservatives must decide whether they want to opt for a leader who is a hard Brexiter, such as the front-runner and former mayor of London, Boris Johnson, or one who has a chance to work with the Europeans toward a deal.

Rory Stewart, a cabinet minister in May’s government, is perhaps the most moderate and the most idiosyncratic of the ten declared candidates, and has surged in popularity in recent weeks. Stewart, who is forty-six, made his name serving his country abroad in Indonesia and Iraq, and writing books about his experiences. “The Places In Between,” which described a walk across Afghanistan in 2002, got him compared—sometimes favorably, sometimes with mockery—to Lawrence of Arabia. Stewart went on to run the Turquoise Mountain Foundation, a charity started by Prince Charles to support the arts in Afghanistan, and to teach at Harvard. A 2010 Profile by Ian Parker captures Stewart’s wide-ranging interests and sense of destiny. “Why would I run an arts school in Kabul?” he said. “It’s not part of the grand narrative. I don’t think Alexander the Great ran an arts school.”

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Stewart’s conservatism often feels as if it is meant to evoke a previous era; it certainly is out of step with much of his party, which is cratering in the polls, and seems likely to follow a more Trumpian course, regardless of whether the buffoonish, demagogic Johnson is chosen. But Stewart has plowed along, quoting poetry to reporters—he learned “The Waste Land” by heart as a teen-ager—and travelling the country in pursuit of Conservative backers. On Friday, I spoke by phone with Stewart. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed why he thinks there is only one way to solve the Brexit mess, why he thinks Americans overstate the role of race and immigration in driving the Brexit vote, and why he hates when people group Brexit and Trump together.

Why do you want to lead the Conservative Party and be prime minister right now?

Because I feel we’ve got an incredibly important fight for the center ground of politics. We have really got to resist the temptation to rush to the extremes. And what I am finding is that the center is incredibly fertile ground. You look at the latest YouGov poll, which has just come out, and you adjust for awareness: I am now leading the other candidates. I am ahead of Boris Johnson. [Twenty-six per cent of respondents said that Johnson would make a good Prime Minister, compared to only twelve per cent who said the same for Stewart—but sixty per cent said they did not know enough about Stewart to answer.]

You have staked out a middle ground on Brexit. What makes you think you will have any more luck than Theresa May did?

I think it’s the only route. We live in a parliamentary democracy, so you can’t get another deal, except through Parliament. The European Union is not going to offer another deal. We have to begin by facing reality. There is no other choice.

Is a second referendum another choice?

No, that also won’t go through Parliament, and were it to go through we would stay a deeply divided country, which will solve nothing and get us back to the problems of the first referendum. I believe the way to unlock Parliament is to follow the example of Ireland and hold a citizen’s assembly to build a bridge between the direct democracy of the referendum and the indirect democracy of Parliament. It involves going back to a jury of citizens. They sit in public for three to four weeks, taking evidence from experts. The whole thing is conducted in public, and they then come back with a fresh mandate for Parliament to unlock the problem.

A jury of citizens?

A citizens’ assembly. These people are selected to be representatives of the population. You start by selecting fifteen thousand people through randomly-generated names by post code, and then you write them all use a polling company to cut them by gender, attitudinal views, to provide a representative sample. And then they sit for three to four weeks. They sit like a committee of the Senate.

That seems a little quaint and unlikely in our current political era, no?

Well, it worked very well in Ireland on abortion. You have to find a way of building a bridge between direct and indirect democracy. All these people who are pontificating and claiming they can get a no-deal Brexit through are being unrealistic about our constitution.

Where do you see the Conservative Party right now?

The Party is currently hung up on this idea of a no-deal Brexit. A no-deal Brexit is a negation, a vacancy, a failure to reach a destination, an ambiguous nonsense—

An empty hotel room?

It’s just a way of saying we are impatient and we want this Brexit done. This new thing has been invented that sounds to people like a quick and easy solution to the problem, but it is not a solution at all. It is simply a negation.

How do you think the Conservative Party got to this place?

They got to this place because they are predominantly Brexit voters who were repeatedly promised that the referendum would be respected, and we would be leaving by the end of March. And they have discovered we haven’t left, and are looking for ways of cutting that Gordian knot, and someone told them there was this very powerful, instantaneous remedy called “no deal” Brexit. But of course it can no more get through Parliament than any other idea.

You are describing the very recent past. How do you think the Conservative Party got to a point where most of its voters became convinced of this rather fanciful notion that Britain could pull away from the E.U. without consequences?

I think that’s because Britain’s relationship with the E.U. has been ambivalent from the moment it joined. To some extent, Britain joined the E.U. under a misleading campaign and left the E.U. under a misleading campaign. The politicians who brought Britain into the European Union were very careful to never talk about the political dimensions of it. They made it sound like they were going into something like NAFTA. A sort of United States of Europe came as a surprise to most British voters who saw this as a pragmatic customs arrangement. Even Remain voters felt no more identity with Europe than someone in Mexico or Canada feels with the United States. That’s the fundamental thing which I think American observers can’t see in this.

So it’s more about the political project, or Britain’s place in the world, than it is about immigration?

All of those things are bound up. Imagine if NAFTA was used to argue for free movement of people in North America. The rest of the European project was never popular in Britain. It was driven largely by continental European countries who were concerned about the aftermaths of the Second World War, and had very idealistic ideas about the United States of Europe. None of that had any resonance in Britain. We refused the single currency. We refused to join Schengen.

Let’s take that as true. Do you feel the same anger and disappointment that, in the Brexit campaign, voters were misled about how easy leaving would be, and the supposed economic benefits of doing so?

No. No, I don’t. I am a practical democratic politician. I accept that in all electoral events in a public democracy people receive a lot of different information. I am pretty confident there was also misleading information on the Remain side. They were told we would face colossal job losses and loss of G.D.P.

That could still happen.

They were told it would happen after the referendum, and it didn’t. There were deeply misleading stories produced by both sides, and that’s not unusual. People are choosing to be prissy about the rough-and-tumble of politics.

But, wait, Rory, we both know there was a lot of fearmongering around Leave about immigration and racial issues.

Sure, and a lot of fearmongering on the other side about economic consequences, too.

You don’t see any difference there?

I think the primary reason people voted to leave was that they wanted to take back control.

What does that mean?

They did not want Brussels to be the arbiter of fundamental issues, including regulations, immigration, payments, political decisions. They felt that they wanted to be independent. I mean, this is a sort of independence statement. In that sense, it’s a nationalist statement. But it’s like the question of why does South Sudan want to leave Sudan, or why there were many people in Scotland who wanted to leave the United Kingdom.

I don’t think that’s why people in South Sudan wanted to leave Sudan.

O.K., maybe more like why people in Scotland would want to leave the United Kingdom.

Which I assume you were opposed to, just as you were opposed to the Brexit referendum, correct?

Yeah, yeah.

Why were you opposed to it, if it’s an independence movement? Why are you opposed to the independence of your country?

Because I believe that Britain had a responsibility toward peace and security in Europe. We had a responsibility to make sure that the precious achievement of peace in Europe was maintained. I also thought it made sense in terms of the environment. I thought there would be significant economic consequences from the departure, which would not be outweighed by the gains in sovereignty.

What do you feel now that Brexit has become identified with this global populist movement that includes Donald Trump?

American commentators are incapable of seeing anything anywhere in the world except in terms of Donald Trump. Where they look at Narendra Modi, in India, they draw analogies to Trump. When they look at Brexit, they try to draw analogies with Trump. The point is that it’s a completely different phenomenon. The main demographic determinant in the Brexit vote, unlike in the Trump vote, had very little to do with the socioeconomic conditions of a post-industrial power, the Detroit phenomenon.

Both had a lot to do with education levels.

The main defining feature is demography and age. If you’re looking for the one thing that Brexit voters have in common, it is that they tend to be older people. But they include a lot of educated people, they include a lot of wealthy people, they include a lot of rural people. It’s primarily about generations. Americans want to couch it, and indeed the progressive left wants to couch it, in terms of economic deprivation and the left-behind areas and that kind of stuff. Yes, some of those areas are involved. But that isn’t what really explains the vote. The striking thing is if an area like mine, which is a very prosperous area, voted for Brexit.

There are a lot of prosperous people who voted for Trump, too. I do think there are a lot of demographic similarities between the two. If you look at both the fact that it’s mostly white voters. It’s mostly older voters. There’s a huge urban-rural divide. These are all similarities.

Well, Scotland is a predominantly rural place, and it voted to remain.

That’s true. Scotland is different.

The Trump analogy is not helpful. Americans can’t see the entire world in terms of Trump. This is a very different type of movement.

I think one of the things that exacerbates it is that Trump goes to Britain and everyone who’s in favor of Brexit or hard Brexit seems to fawn all over him, and vice versa.

It’s only the fringe that’s like that.

Like Boris Johnson, the likely next Prime Minister?

There’s a fringe that’s like that. But I know an enormous number of Brexit voters who are extremely uncomfortable with Trump. You’re right that Nigel Farage and Donald Trump have a relationship. But many Brexit voters, many Brexit members of Parliament, are deeply troubled by these kinds of analogies.

O.K., well, as an American, I’m also troubled by Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson. It can go both ways. Not to the same degree I am troubled by Donald Trump, but—

But you’re not a Trump voter. What I’m saying is that Brexit voters are troubled by Trump. It would be more interesting if you were a Trump voter saying you were troubled by Farage.

Right. I’m not trying to look at everything through an American prism, but it does seem to me that there are a lot of commonalities here that are interesting. It seems like, in your account of what drove Brexit or what’s driving anti-Europe sentiment, racial fears have really not been a part of it.

It doesn’t feature much in the polling. Immigration comes quite low on almost all opinion polls on Brexit voters.

Those aren’t the polls I’ve seen, but O.K.

By all means, send me the polls, but by far the largest thing in every major poll that we’ve had in the country is the question of sovereignty, not a question of immigration.

There is a larger question about what sovereignty means to people—whether it means that they think their country is changing demographically and they want to take control of it—and how that’s connected to racial issues, too.

These polls ask that question explicitly. They separate out the question of sovereignty from immigration, and what you find is the sovereignty question turns out to rate much higher than immigration in people’s behavior.

You’ve done much more travelling around the world than I have. You’ve been to many more countries. You know a lot about history. You presumably understand the degree to which all of these movements, including Brexit, are at least partially based on race and racial fears, right?

There are definitely people in the movement who are racist. I don’t doubt that for a moment. I’m just saying that the vast majority of these people are not. This is seventeen million people in our country. This is fifty-two per cent of our voters. This is not a country that has attitudes on race which are comparable to most of those other countries which you mentioned. I know a lot of Brexit voters. My constituency is a Brexit-voting constituency. There’s very little conversation about race or immigration when I talk to them about Brexit.

The U.S. attitudes to race are differently inflected. It’s a different historical context than British attitudes toward race. These are quite different historical phenomena. I mean, you’re right, there is the problem of Islamophobia in our country, and there have been problems with anti-Semitism, particularly on the left. But many of those people were Remain voters, not Brexit voters.

It seems, though, in terms of politics, that both countries use race in similar ways. The ways that Zac Goldsmith campaigned at the end of his racist mayoral race in London and the way Donald Trump campaigned don’t seem all that far apart.

I was saddened by that London campaign. But it was a huge error. It didn’t work for him. It doesn’t work in the British political context, that kind of campaign.

You don’t think it’s working in Farage’s case?

No, in Farage’s Brexit Party, if you look at his promotional videos, they’re completely falling over themselves to make sure that almost every candidate he shows is from a minority ethnic background.

This is after the Brexit campaign, though. This is after he got criticized for a racist campaign.

But this is hugely important for his brand. That’s right in the middle of his promotional videos. That’s the imagery that he’s hammering. He believes the voters want to see and want to hear that his party is full of people from very diverse backgrounds and a lot of ethnicities. He’s very keen.

But I think there is something more interesting than what you’re picking up here. You’d need to explain why he’s done so well off the campaign that almost entirely features people with dark-skinned backgrounds.

Politicians have always been surrounding themselves with “rainbow coalitions” to seem like they’re not racist. But, before you go, you’ve written a lot about Britain’s former empire. Do you think it is fair to say Brexit is about imperial nostalgia?

No way. I don’t think it’s fair. I mean, if you pick up from this conversation, I was a Remain voter. I’m passionately opposed to “no deal” Brexit. I’m the only one to rule out a “no deal” Brexit. I’m profoundly opposed to Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party and everything it stands for. But I am also very keen to try to communicate that the divisive, polarizing, simplistic narrative of Brexit—trying to portray most Brexit voters as racists, or most Brexit voters as imperial nostalgics, or trying to suggest that the entire campaign is irrational and absurd—is a total misunderstanding of the phenomenon. It’s a complete misunderstanding of just how many challenges there always were with Britain’s relationship with Europe. It’s a complete misunderstanding of the challenges that would be involved if Britain would attempt to rejoin Europe now. It’s a complete misunderstanding of the type of people who voted for Brexit.

The reason that I’m running a campaign, which is about compromise and about landing a sensible, moderate, Brexit deal, is I think it would be incredibly divisive and destabilizing to try to hold a second referendum. I think it would be a really stupid thing to do. I think it would be an arrogant thing to do, and I think the democratic, patriotic thing to do is actually to stay very close to Europe diplomatically and politically and economically. But to leave the European Parliament and the European Commission, I don’t think that belonging to the political structures of Europe is vital for our national identity, or indeed for Europe’s future.

Right, but when you hear some Brexit figures, like the Tory politician Jacob Rees-Mogg, it does seem that their arguments are very caught up in imperial nostalgia.

Oh, yeah, of course that’s there. There’s a lot of MAGA rhetoric. There’s a lot of Make Britain Great Again going on. But, then, there is in every country. There is in your own country, and you’re right, that was a big slogan with Reagan, and it’s a big slogan of Trump. It’s a very common slogan in every country. They like the idea of national greatness. It can be harnessed to almost everything. You’re right that’s going on.

But I think the more interesting thing is not to keep punching the breeze of Brexit. One of the things I’m really interested in doing is challenging American intellectuals, readers, progressives to try to develop a more nuanced idea of this. Otherwise it feels a bit like all those New York Times journalists going out on a two-day visit to Trumpland and then coming back and writing a rather boring piece about how they saw a guy with a gun at a gas station.

I think we can agree about those stories.

My wife is an American, so her parents are American. I notice, when I try to discuss this, that they assume, as progressive American voters for the Democratic Party, that it’s inconceivable that anybody could ever be in favor of even a moderate, pragmatic Brexit. That’s probably because they don’t actually even understand what the European Union is. I think Americans have tended to view it as a version of the United States of America. Therefore, what’s going on would be a little bit like Illinois suddenly deciding to secede from the United States. Ironically, Americans sometimes seem to have more sympathy for Scotland leaving the U.K., which they think is absolutely fine, than they do for the idea of the United Kingdom leaving Europe. Which actually suggests that you, too, have your own colonial models in your head, and your own imperial anxieties.

Due to a transcription error, a previous version of this post misstated which body Scotland might leave.