Book Review

Chums – The elitist breeding ground that spawned Britain’s modern-day ruling class

Simon Kuper of the FT takes a deep dive into the culture of the upper-crust public schools and university that produced Boris Johnson and ten others of the UK’s 15 post-war prime ministers

A 21-year-old Boris Johnson pictured with Melina Mercouri, the then Greek minister for culture, in June 1986. Johnson at the time was president of the Oxford Union. Picture: Reuters

“The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.” So the Irish-born Duke of Wellington allegedly once said, suggesting that England’s public school system had been a perfect training ground for his plucky soldiers. In this intellectually bracing polemic, Financial Times writer Simon Kuper makes quite a different claim – Brexit was won at the Oxford Union debating society by a group of pampered, shallow egotists who are now running Britain as ...