LUNCH WITH THE FT: Timo Soini, a populist former politician who nearly became a priest
The Finn enjoys his food, but not feminists, and thinks the world’s elites need to listen to populists, not bully them
Meeting a populist for lunch at a restaurant called Elite sounds like the first line of a joke. If so, then the punchline arrives with exquisite timing, walking into the Helsinki establishment bang on midday clad in suit, slightly loosened tie, braces and a Millwall scarf.
“No one likes us, we don’t care,” goes the decades-old chant at the gritty south-east London football club, and you can imagine my guest Timo Soini joining in. It is the early days of coronavirus in Finland, with just 40 confirmed cases as I land in a March downpour in Helsinki. “We are men: we still shake hands,” he says. I had mentally prepared for no handshakes on the trip but find myself joining in wholeheartedly.