James Bond ‘shouldn’t be Jacob Rees-Mogg with a gun’, says Charlie Higson

Author's new incarnation of the famous spy condemns anti-immigrant rhetoric and prefers kombucha to martinis

Charlie Higson has written five best-selling Young Bond novels
Charlie Higson has written five best-selling Young Bond novels Credit: John Lawrence

Charlie Higson has claimed that James Bond is a Remainer and the character should not be “Jacob Rees-Mogg with a gun”.

The writer of several Young Bond books recently published On His Majesty’s Secret Service, his first 007 novel for adults, commissioned by the Ian Fleming estate.

Higson’s new incarnation of Bond condemns anti-immigrant rhetoric, drinks kombucha and notes with disapproval that a function he attends is exclusively male.

Responding on social media, Higson said: “I believe a contemporary 35-year-old is likely to be more ‘woke’ than one from 1952. I didn’t want him to be Jacob Rees-Mogg with a gun.”

Asked if Bond voted for Brexit, Higson replied: “Well, he travels a lot. He’s also half Scottish and half Swiss. And I think as a civil servant and someone who relies on the cooperation of international security services, he would have 100% voted to stay in the EU.”

The villain of the book is a far-Right figure who styles himself as “Aethelstan of Wessex”, claims to be a descendant of Alfred the Great, and plots to assassinate the King. Another character is a former Tory MP who was kicked out of the party for an “anti-trans diatribe” and who spreads Covid/5G conspiracy theories.

Higson said: “I had a lot of fun writing the book and people who’ve read it have really enjoyed it. If Fleming had kept politics out of his books the first five of them would never have been written.”

Higson has recently published On His Majesty’s Secret Service, his first 007 novel for adults

In 1962, writing in The Spectator, Fleming described Bond’s politics as “slightly left of centre”.

Engaging with critics on Twitter who complained that 007 has become “woke”, Higson said: “I’ve just made him a contemporary young man. In the same way that Eon [the production company] completely updated Bond for each new decade in the films so that he wouldn’t feel dated.”

When one user said that the new Bond sounded like a 35-year-old “who lives in Stoke Newington and gives £15 a month to the Guardian”, Higson replied: “My Bond doesn’t live in Stoke Newington or read the Guardian.

“Fleming said Bond was slightly to the left of centre. I’d say my version is straight down the middle. He’s woke in the same way that Jack Reacher is woke.”

And he advised: “The Fleming books still exist. All the films still exist. If someone writes a new book, or makes a film, looking at Bond in a different light, it doesn’t alter the past or somehow cause the other stuff to disintegrate. If you don’t like it, ignore it and move on.”

Other writers who have produced Bond continuation novels include Sebastian Faulks, William Boyd and Anthony Horowitz.

Higson, known for writing and starring in The Fast Show with Paul Whitehouse, was approached by the Fleming estate in 2003 and went on to produce five best-selling Young Bond novels.