Capital Confidential: ‘Big Short’ author contemplates taking on Brexit

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: American author Michael Lewis is interested in chronicling Brexit, Howard Shore’s commitment to duty over footie and some long-overdue good news for Uber…

Will Michael Lewis bring Brexit to book?

Michael Lewis, best-selling American author of The Big Short and Liar’s Poker, has revealed he is interested in chronicling the UK’s protracted attempt to leave the EU for a future book — if he can figure out how to do the political drama justice.

“The subject does interest me,” Lewis tells Capital when we ask him about Brexit. “I’ve played around with the rise of nationalism but haven’t figured out how to make it work as a story.” Lewis, whose latest tome The Fifth Risk has just come out in paperback, spent seven years in London in the 1980s working as a bond salesman for Salomon Brothers — as depicted in Liar’s Poker.

Brexiteers should not expect too much sympathy from him in any subsequent account. Lewis told The Sunday Times recently that “Brexit feels almost not real because people keep refusing to do it”. He also said he thought the idea of a referendum on leaving the EU was “just crazy”. Lewis told Capital there is an additional logistical hurdle to overcome before he tackles Brexit in book form: “It’d be a difficult book to write from California.”

The Big Shore

Advertising guru Sir Martin Sorrell and M&G Prudential chair Mike Evans were among those attending Shore Capital’s annual Christmas cocktail party at Claridge’s last week. The stockbroker’s eponymous founder Howard Shore is a huge Tottenham Hotspur fan and a former nonexecutive director at the club.

However, Shore admirably didn’t succumb to temptation and escape the proceedings to watch Spurs take on Manchester United, which was unfolding at the same time as his shindig. “If I was to tell my wife: ‘I’m leaving the cocktail party to watch the game’…” he said, leaving his potentially dire fate to the imagination.

By contrast, Greg Lawless, Shore Capital’s retail analyst, is a devotee of Tottenham Hotspur’s north London rivals Arsenal and said he wants former Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino to fill the current managerial vacancy at the Emirates. Strange times…

Along for the ride

Long-overdue good news for Uber. The ride-sharing app might have been refused a new licence by the transport regulator to operate in London recently, but Uber U.K. and Europe boss Jamie Heywood hailed the fact that turnout at the company’s Christmas media drinks at the Groucho Club was bigger than at last year’s event.

“We’re very pleased it is a bigger turnout than last year,” he said in a speech to revelers. “I’m trying to work out whether that is because of the progress and the things that we have done this year or because of the notable things we haven’t quite done this year.”

Heywood reiterated that the company would appeal Transport for London’s decision and added: “It is disappointing, we don’t think it is the right decision but we hold ourselves to the highest safety standards.” Wags joked that the Groucho Club — unlike Uber — is a fully licensed establishment.

State of independence

Veteran stockbroker Graham Hadley was last in these pages naming a premium blended malt Scotch whisky after Mary Queen of Scots to tie in with the 2018 biopic of the Scottish monarch. Now Hadley is standing as an independent candidate for the Wimbledon constituency in the general election.

He has a punchy campaign slogan: “You won’t do badly when you vote for Hadley.” Given Hadley’s flagship policy is protesting against U.S. President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Scotch whisky and cashmere, it is uncertain that Wimbledon constituents will ever find out.

Flight of fancy

Alarm bells rang in HSBC the other Friday. A group of traders, it was rumored within the bank’s headquarters at Canada Square in Canary Wharf, had taken the afternoon off to go to an aggressive-sounding establishment by the name of “Fight Club”.

Happily for all concerned, the HSBC band actually went to “Flight Club”, a hipster darts bar in Shoreditch, to enjoy what was by all accounts a civilized mini Christmas party. “The only trouble came in the fact we didn’t spend all of our bar tab,” one tells Capital. Wonders never cease!

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