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WELL, WE CERTAINLY WEREN’T SHORT-CHANGED - APRIL 6 - 9.05pm - 2019

Michael Heseltine - Sheldonian - 6.30pm

On the way to this event, I bumped into an old friend on Magdalen Street. “Where are you going?” she enquired. “Michael Heseltine’s talking at The Sheldonian” I replied. “Really?” she replied. “You know, I’d rather boil my own head...”. Once outside the venue however, it was clear not everyone shared her sentiment. The talk was due to start at 6.30pm but at 5.45pm there was already a long queue. Since this clearly was a much anticipated event, I got my seat early and then watched - and more importantly listened - as the floor and surrounding tiers began to fill up. The hubbub was significant, and it was easy to sniff out - indeed, the bouquet was overpowering - that most were there because they smelled blood; not his of course but everybody else’s in and out of government, not only now but before. And boy did it flow. Interestingly, considering his rather rocky relationship with Margaret Thatcher, she was one of the few - together with David Cameron perhaps surprisingly - who came out of it rather well. This despite Thatcher’s jarring Bruges speech in September 1988, when she said: “We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them reimposed at European level, with a European super-state exercising a new dominance from Brussels.” A statement memorable for so clinically highlighting the tensions between the Conservative government and our European cousins. Who did come in for the full force of his ire was Theresa May, but critically not Boris Johnson, at least not savagely. When asked by interviewer Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times (the event was sponsored by FT Weekend) if Johnson had earned a special place in history or a special place in Hell, Heseltine playfully replied: “How do you know they’re not the same?” And perhaps more importantly, when asked if he thought Johnson could be the next Prime Minister, he answered: “Yes”. A formidable and charismatic speaker, Heseltine earned a huge burst of applause when pressed to answer what would he do if he were now Prime Minister? “I would say that we’re going to have a General Election and campaign to stay in the EU.” Better still, when asked if he thought he would win, he didn’t miss a beat. “Yes” he replied. In short then, for those who had wanted to see teeth and claw instead of the usual political flimflam, it was Manna from Heaven.
The Telegraph Festival media partner University of Oxford Netflix European Union Supported by the Delegation of the European Union to the UK Cultural Relations Platform Supporter of the festival's Voices of Europe programme BBC World Service International radio partner Owen Mumford Supporter of programme of science and medicine and annual science and innovation award Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Oxford Mathematics Spanish Embassy The Spanish Embassy: supporters of the programme of Spanish literature and culture Cervantes Institute, London The Cervantes Institute, London Italian Embassy The Italian Embassy: supporter of the programme of Italian literature and culture The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner International Literary Properties Festival literary heritage partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels Festival hotel Old Bank Hotel Five-star hotel partners of The Oxford Collection Old Parsonage Hotel Five-star hotel partners of The Oxford Collection Jim Mellon John Roberts Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture Tim and Marion Stevenson Martin and Elise Becket Smith Miles Young Masumi and Jonathan Dobson Pank Koria CEO of Project People Carole and John Allen David Isaac Mary and Cecil Quillen Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Anna Hunter Rhys and Kerry Phillip Exeter College Exeter College: college home of the festival. Founded 1314 New College New College founded 1379 Worcester College Worcester College founded 1714 Lincoln College Lincoln College founded 1427 St Cross College St Cross College founded 1965 Trinity College Trinity College founded 1555 Magdalen College Magdalen College founded 1458 Critchleys Accountants to the festival Pasture to Plate Compassion in World Farming Human Ecology Project MACROVegan Symington Wines of the Douro Valley Princeton University Press Prestige publishing partner European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Sponsor of the EBRD Literature Prize since 2018 ROOMS Georgia's leading lifestyle hotel brand since 2012. Supporters of the programme of Georgian literature and culture Jewish Book Week Partner of Oxford Literary Festival Foodbuy Thje Menu Partners Institute of Hospitality Goldmoney Properties Project People Oxford Brookes University Oxford International Centre for Publishing Confucius Institute Pusey House British Academy Festival academic partner Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies Oxford United Football Club Racalia Olive Oil Olive oil from Sicily BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design Paul Bloomfield Ltd University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Conference Oxford Felicity Bryan Associates CAV Oxford The Sheldonian Theatre Oxford University Images Oxford University Images Oxford University Department for Continuing Education Force4Good Consultancy Corporate communications OX magazine Ox in a Box K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography The Litmus Partnership Schoolreaders Windrush Group James Currey Society

The Oxford Literary Festival sponsors, donors & partners

The Telegraph Festival media partner University of Oxford Netflix European Union Supported by the Delegation of the European Union to the UK Cultural Relations Platform Supporter of the festival's Voices of Europe programme BBC World Service International radio partner Owen Mumford Supporter of programme of science and medicine and annual science and innovation award Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Oxford Mathematics Spanish Embassy The Spanish Embassy: supporters of the programme of Spanish literature and culture Cervantes Institute, London The Cervantes Institute, London Italian Embassy The Italian Embassy: supporter of the programme of Italian literature and culture The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner International Literary Properties Festival literary heritage partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels Festival hotel Old Bank Hotel Five-star hotel partners of The Oxford Collection Old Parsonage Hotel Five-star hotel partners of The Oxford Collection Jim Mellon John Roberts Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture Tim and Marion Stevenson Martin and Elise Becket Smith Miles Young Masumi and Jonathan Dobson Pank Koria CEO of Project People Carole and John Allen David Isaac Mary and Cecil Quillen Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Anna Hunter Rhys and Kerry Phillip Exeter College Exeter College: college home of the festival. Founded 1314 New College New College founded 1379 Worcester College Worcester College founded 1714 Lincoln College Lincoln College founded 1427 St Cross College St Cross College founded 1965 Trinity College Trinity College founded 1555 Magdalen College Magdalen College founded 1458 Critchleys Accountants to the festival Pasture to Plate Compassion in World Farming Human Ecology Project MACROVegan Symington Wines of the Douro Valley Princeton University Press Prestige publishing partner European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Sponsor of the EBRD Literature Prize since 2018 ROOMS Georgia's leading lifestyle hotel brand since 2012. Supporters of the programme of Georgian literature and culture Jewish Book Week Partner of Oxford Literary Festival Foodbuy Thje Menu Partners Institute of Hospitality Goldmoney Properties Project People Oxford Brookes University Oxford International Centre for Publishing Confucius Institute Pusey House British Academy Festival academic partner Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies Oxford United Football Club Racalia Olive Oil Olive oil from Sicily BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design Paul Bloomfield Ltd University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Conference Oxford Felicity Bryan Associates CAV Oxford The Sheldonian Theatre Oxford University Images Oxford University Images Oxford University Department for Continuing Education Force4Good Consultancy Corporate communications OX magazine Ox in a Box K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography The Litmus Partnership Schoolreaders Windrush Group James Currey Society