Because Brexit is not ridiculous enough, an influential group of Conservative Brexiteers has attracted a new nickname: the Grand Wizards.
The band of powerful Tories - which includes Iain Duncan Smith, Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg - met Theresa May at her Chequers country retreat on Sunday as the Prime Minister made yet another attempt to get them to swing behind her troubled Brexit deal.
Reporting in the aftermath of the meeting and ahead of yet more crunch votes in the Commons, the BBC’s Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg tweeted that people are calling them by a strange new moniker.
She tweeted: “The ‘Grand Wizards’ (the new name for the Chequer’s daytrippers apparently) also had another meeting this morning, were they discussed again whether they could get on board to back PM’s deal and there was no firm conclusion.”
The problem with the name is its association, not with JK Rowling or characters in the author’s orbit, but it’s connection to the racist group, the Ku Klux Klan.
As many pointed out, leaders of the KKK were referred to as ‘Grand Wizards’ in the 19th century.
Former Tory chancellor turned newspaper editor George Osborne was among the first to raise an eyebrow ...
I’m sorry, is this for real? Have the leaders of the hard Brexiteers just called themselves the same name as the leaders of the Ku Klux Klan? https://t.co/ltMKsyCnwH— George Osborne (@George_Osborne) March 25, 2019
Labour MPs couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing ...
This is unbelievable yet so very believable. The group think of this proves exactly why we criticised the fact they were all white men. I'm astonished but no longer am I surprised. These people are disgraceful https://t.co/zV4lAfF814— Jess Phillips (@jessphillips) March 25, 2019
Grand Wizards? Really? Do they know the connotations that name has? https://t.co/gBJbiM8DeI— Angela Rayner (@AngelaRayner) March 25, 2019
While the briefing to Kuenssberg appears to have come from someone who attended the latest meeting of the group, other Brexiteers were dismissing the authenticity of the name.
Rees-Mogg, chairman of the influential European Research Group, said the name was “ridiculous” and “it’s certainly not a name we would take for ourselves”.
Kuenssberg later added that “for avoidance of doubt, couple of insiders told me using the nickname informally, no intended connection to anything else”.
In any case, the questionable sobriquet left social media baffled ...
"We need a name!"— Robert Hutton (@RobDotHutton) March 25, 2019
"Got it! The Grand Wizards!"
"Shall we Google it, to check?"
"Why bother?" pic.twitter.com/vlmXaFHfzD
Rejected name shortlist:— Hannah (@teaforpterosaur) March 25, 2019
✴️ The Mein Führers
✴️ Westboro Brexit Church
✴️ The Lynch Pins
✴️ Holy fuck I don't care what is going on why do I still live here
What name can we give ourselves that makes us sound really down-to-earth and representative of the people?"— Hannah Al-Othman (@HannahAlOthman) March 25, 2019
"I've got it!"
"Sounds familiar. You sure no nefarious organisations have ever used that name?"
"Nope, don't think so!"
Some more background ...
Historical note - only the reconstruction era KKK had Grand Wizards. The post WW1 KKK had Imperial Wizards and Grand Dragons.— Sam Freedman (@Samfr) March 25, 2019
To be clear I don’t remotely think the ERG are racists but whoever came up with that appellation needs their head testing— Tim Shipman (@ShippersUnbound) March 25, 2019
And maybe the inspiration was from elsewhere ...
The Grand Wizards sound like a really bad Led Zep tribute band 😱 https://t.co/US3t6emiG2— James Chapman (@jameschappers) March 25, 2019
The Grand Wizards might want to rethink the band name https://t.co/6640bMcPsX— Jessica Elgot (@jessicaelgot) March 25, 2019