The FTSE was halfway through its £100billion post-Brexit slide when the conference planners’ inboxes started overflowing.
Some of the most prominent spokesmen for the Remain campaign had done their bit to keep Britain in the European Union. But although the economic implications of its failure were now playing out, they had less to worry about.
All three of Britain’s living former prime ministers (and one deputy prime minister) are on the books of US lecturing agency Washington Speakers Bureau (WSB), and the bureau had no problem giving its Brexit catalogue the hard sell.
By Monday 27 June, Tony Blair – typically available for fees in the low hundreds of thousands of pounds – was touted as “one of the most respected and admired world leaders in the last 50 years”, ready to shed light on the “behind-the-scenes…impact of the Vote on British government”.
A little further from the epicentre is Gordon Brown, who has been known to speak for up to £75,000 a go – although his fees go entirely to charity.
His WSB write-up promises an “unparalleled insight into the EU decision, including the global economic implications and the impacts on the future of Europe”.
The bureau doesn’t seem quite as bullish on Nick Clegg, who recently jumped ship from rival booking agency Leading Authorities, where he commanded fees up to £35,000. His description as “having occupied the second highest office in the country” is best described as starkly factual.
Although he has spent almost 20 years out of government, John Major receives a rather a more generous endorsement. His “renowned brilliance and grace… amazing clarity and original solutions to complex economic and international issues” are yours for roughly £30,000.
The price of a speaker varies depending on where a speech is being made, to whom, and for how long, says Neil Martin, director of UK speakers’ agency NMP Live. But “it’s no secret that Blair charges a six-figure sum”.
Martin confirmed that John Major’s fee is “£30,000, give or take”, but can’t shed light on Brown, who, as far he knows, doesn’t make speaking commitments in the UK.
“I can’t imagine,” he said, “That he would be much in demand as a speaker over here.”
It remains to be seen whether corporations consider this the right time to spend big sums on the men who failed to deliver a Remain vote.