Anthony Horowitz: I’m still waiting to see benefit of Brexit

Author who has previously called himself a Conservative tells Hay festival he ‘can’t understand’ the government’s actions

The writer Anthony Horowitz has said he is “still waiting to see the benefit” of Brexit and criticised Boris Johnson’s government, despite having previously called himself a Conservative.

Speaking at the Hay festival, the author of the Alex Rider novels said he had been “already moving more to the left” before the 2016 referendum, but that Britain’s decision to leave the EU made him “very personally upset”.

Meanwhile, his 31-year-old son, Cass, a special adviser to the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has moved much further to the right, he said, remarking: “It should be the other way around!”

Horowitz told the BBC 5 live presenter Matthew Stadlen he could not name anything that had made his life better since Brexit. “But it’s not only that. I’ve been so upset by the anger and division,” he said. “At the end of the day, we all lost because we’re so against each other even all these years later.”

The thriller writer, who was speaking at Hay to promote his latest James Bond continuation novel, was previously known to be one of the few authors who would talk openly about having rightwing politics. However, he said he could not possibly support the Conservatives in the wake of Brexit.

“Since then, to my surprise, things have got immeasurably worse,” he told the audience in Wales, adding that he “can’t understand” the current government’s actions.

Politicians have been saying things recently that are “blindingly, obviously untrue”, Horowitz said. He expressed dismay that despite the fact the public has seen photos and heard evidence, the government was willing to deny having gone to any illegal parties, and that others backed them up. “The funny thing about this is that we’re talking here at a literary festival,” he said. “And what I have now realised is that nowadays, the only place you can find truth is in fiction.”

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Yet the writer still has relatively Conservative views when it comes to social justice. When asked what his thoughts were on “cancel culture”, Horowitz said he was “very, very scared”.

The author, who claimed in 2017 that he had been “warned off” writing black characters in his children’s books, said he thought there was a “culture of fear” in the children’s publishing world in particular. He said he was shocked by the notes his publisher gave him about things he “could or couldn’t say” in his most recent book.

“I believe that writers should not be cowed. We should not be made to do things because we’re so scared of starting a storm on Twitter,” he said, advising the audience to watch the comedian Ricky Gervais as an antidote to the “shrill voices” on social media.


Lucy Knight

The GuardianTramp

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