Magazine article The Spectator

Diary: Emily Sheffield

Magazine article The Spectator

Diary: Emily Sheffield

Article excerpt

When asked to write the Spectator diary, I diligently collated a list of topics to cover. But the problem is I still need to talk about Brexit. Because I'm not over it yet. I don't mean I am still raging against Leavers and calling for another referendum. Nor do I regret we held it. Instead, by the Monday I was extolling the virtues of thinking positive for obvious economic reasons. I found reassurance in the quiet hum of my office that morning after the despondency of the weekend (moments when I stood in a corner of my bedroom, unable to control the ricochets of fury; resisting the tempestuous urge to throw eggs at Steve Hilton's door, two streets away). Despite the raw emotion which kept flaring up in defiant constellations across the country, we were still a functioning democracy. Not a country at real war; just an abrupt ending to a long partnership. It's not me, it's EU, we said.

And yet, over subsequent days there were more reasons both public and personal to feel capsized, coming on top of watching the Prime Minister's 'friends' campaign ferociously against him; like many I was suspicious that their aims were not wholly principled, further confirmed when Gove devastatingly turned on his campaign partner. I didn't want to believe he was Machiavellian (I still don't), or think that surprising statements made by his wife to me at Chequers three years before, with Gove listening, were nightmarishly coming true. Even so, by the following Wednesday, I returned to persuading fellow guests at a lunch with senior journalists and Remainers that we needed to eradicate our memories of the Leavers' half-truths; that despite our morose outlook, it was worth remembering that the Eurosceptics had kept us out of the single currency. And if I could forgive Boris and Gove, surely they could?

On the first night of my holiday last week, I was on the defensive against the charge that we were cowards for quitting (and this coming from an Italian). But despite these outward protestations, even writing in this magazine feels like an awkward first date -- because in my opinion, you brought down a good man. To the media and the electorate he was the Prime Minister. To me, he was also my sister's husband, who loved and protected her through truly terrible times. I saw him weep over the body of his son, my nephew. …

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