New literary and history festival near Bridgnorth attracts celebrities

A new literary and history festival near Bridgnorth attracted some of the top names in politics, journalism and art.

Members of dance group Courtesie at the festival
Members of dance group Courtesie at the festival

Food writer William Sitwell, artist Adam Dant and Harry Mount, editor of The Oldie magazine, were among the celebrity names at the inaugural Upton Cressett literary festival on Saturday.

The exclusive event, set within the grounds of Upton Cressett Hall, also saw talks from novelist Jane Thynne, the presenter of BBC's Fake or Fortune Philip Mould and former Radio 1 breakfast show host, Mike Read.

Guests packed out St Michael's Church on Saturday afternoon for the 'Boris, Brexit and the Future of Britain' event.

Stone Tory MP and owner of the Upton Cressett estate, Sir Bill Cash, was in conversation with the editor of The Oldie, Harry Mount.

The pair swapped stories about the Johnson family, gave their opinions on the state of Brexit and discussed what they believe the future holds.

Sir Bill Cash with his wife Bridget Lee

They also took questions from members of the public who were keen for an insight into what is going on in 10 Downing Street right now.

When asked whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson should resign, delay leaving the European Union or ignore parliament, Sir Cash said: "I don't think resignation is an option. He has an obligation to carry out what the British public has voted for. I believe Boris is right for the job and I'm sticking to my guns. I think the British people are backing him too."

Sir Cash said he believes a general election is the best way forward and will unite the country after months of uncertainty and tension.

"An election needs to come sooner rather than later," he said. "Yes there has been a huge amount of uncertainty recently. When a general election takes place, it will be down to the people to decide who they want to be governed by. Do they want to be governed by Europe or the UK electorate? This is fundamental territory. It's as sacred as that.

"I believe that the British people will again decide that they want to leave the EU because we can't be governed by an undemocratic authority. We can't be run by one group of people behind closed doors that are basically unaccountable to anyone."

He was also asked whether he believes the Conservative party will join with the Brexit party in the future.

Members of dance group Courtesie at the festival

Sir Cash said: "They won't have to. The Brexit party has its own characteristics and is dedicated to leaving the EU. It may be a separate party but that doesn't mean we have to join up with them.

"I don't personally believe that they would be able to carry forward a government. My opinion is that Boris Johnson can deliver the things they want and bring back the Conservatives who have gone to the Brexit party in frustration with what Teresa May was doing. I have reason to believe that the Conservative government will be able to carry forward those proposals."

Mr Mount, who has written countless books on politics, added: "Boris has always had a huge ambition to be the Prime Minister. There's a story that when his sister Rachel asked him what he wanted to be when he was older, he said he wanted to be world king. He is deeply, deeply ambitious.

"He must succeed at all costs and he did that but he still can make a joke about himself. He has dialled down the jokes since he became foreign secretary but he still can't resist a good joke. It's in his DNA."

Speaking about this recent rebellion among his party, Mr Mount said Mr Johnson was "shocked" when his own brother quit.

He added: "The Johnson family are very, very close so it was a shock when Jo Johnson dropped that bombshell and resigned. I was in university with Jo and I'm sure they will all remain very good friends - not like the Milibands."

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