He looks nothing like a financial expert. Moneyweek journalist, Dominic Frisby, has a huge Santa beard and he dresses like a funeral director from a Roald Dahl fantasy: a top hat, a white shirt with wing-collars and a flowing silk cravat. As a gesture of solidarity with the gilets jaunes he sports a bright yellow high-vis waistcoat as well.
I meet him at the Edinburgh festival just after he finishes his stand-up show, Libertarian Love Songs. Frisby has recently been adopted as a parliamentary candidate for the Brexit party and he’s keen to parade his skills as a financial commentator rather than as a clown:
‘I got interested in politics after I started investing in gold in the early noughties. And gold is a very political investment because it used to be money. And from there I discovered how the system of money works and the sheer size of the state. I became a classic “libertarian” or whatever word you want to use.’
Before the referendum he considered British democracy, ‘a charade. The 2001 general election was won on the lowest turnout since the first world war. Take Lambeth. It’s never going to be taken by anyone but the Labour party. People didn’t care about politics. Their vote counted for nothing.’
Then came the referendum:
‘Finally, there was an election where your vote actually mattered. It ignited the public imagination like nothing had before. And it’s important for the future of our country that the result is taken seriously.’
As an aside, he says that David Cameron blundered fatally during the campaign:
‘He’s an instinctive Brexiteer but he got caught up in this web of “I’ll vote Remain”. He didn’t need to tie himself to the Remain mast. And that doomed him.’
Frisby has been warned by fellow comedians that entering politics will expose him to the death-mobs of Twitter. ‘He must be mad,’ one stand-up told me. ‘He’ll be destroyed.’ Frisby appears not to care:
‘I’m a comedian. I’m bound to have said the wrong thing at some point. Someone’ll find something which won’t look remotely funny out of context.’
For him, the issue is more serious than his personal wellbeing. The bond between the electors and the elected is at stake:
‘An MP is there to administer the will of the people not to adopt this “we-know-better-than-you” attitude.’
The political energy released by Brexit encourages him to make referendums a permanent feature of our system. ‘What would you ask people to consider?’
‘The legalisation of marijuana. Or the future of the BBC.’
He speaks with an almost Blair-like certainty about the core-values of the British people. ‘They want lower taxes, less state, and more individual responsibility. A party that occupies that position can be the dominant force in British politics.’
Could the Tories do it?
‘They have that opportunity. But it’s only because of the Brexit party that the Conservatives are moving towards that position.’
But if Boris manages a clean-break Brexit on 31 October, your party is finished.
‘An experienced politician would probably bat that away with a load of fluff. I’ll give you an honest answer, I don’t know. It depends on the monsters in the Tory party’s closet.’
He likes the phrase, ‘monsters in the Tory party’s closet’ and he uses it twice to refer to internal disloyalists who dress as Conservatives but pursue soft-left policies.
‘They’re social democrats.’
He’s well placed to flush them out. He’s standing in Old Bexley and Sidcup, the former constituency of Ted Heath.