On this week’s episode, we discuss the winners and losers as Trump moves into the White House, where Theresa May’s Brexit strategy is headed, and whether you can wear fur so long as the animal died in a snowstorm.
First, the world's media is currently congregated in Washington for the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. But what will happen when Trump swears the oath of office, and what will it mean for the UK and the rest of Europe? We had a peek behind the curtain this week, thanks to The Times’s intrepid reporter Michael Gove, but whilst we wait for the full reveal, we were joined on the podcast by the Spectator’s Deputy Editor Freddy Gray, and the BBC’s Paul Wood, who are both currently in Washington, and by Kate Andrews, a Republican commentator, here in London.
On Trump's relationship with the EU, Freddy says:
"I've given up speculating on the inner workings of Trump's mind. I think they're one of the great mysteries of our time. I think what's certain is he has an instinctive dislike of the EU. It stems largely from the fact that EU red tape stopped him from developing his golf course at Doonbeg in Ireland and I think he has an instinctive sense that Brexit is a bit like a British version of Braveheart."
Next, on Tuesday, Theresa May gave her latest Brexit address in which she confirmed, amongst other things, that the UK would be withdrawing from the single market. What does this all mean? We were joined to discuss the so-called ‘Clean Brexit’ by the economist Liam Halligan and the Spectator’s James Forsyth.
On the subject of the customs union, Liam Halligan explains that:
"The most important part of the customs union, as it affects us, is the common external tariff which makes lots of consumer goods more expensive, not least food, and also our ability to negotiate our own free trade deals with the rest of the non-EU. That's 88% of the world economy that will be outside of the EU, once we've left."
Finally, at the start of this year, Kate Middleton was spotted strolling around Sandringham, wearing a plump, grey hat that was later revealed to be woven from alpaca fur. The furore died down when it emerged that the decorative baby alpaca had frozen to death during a snowstorm, rather than having been raised simply for its fur harvest, but this raised a new debate about whether there can ever be such a thing as ‘ethical fur’. It’s a subject that Melissa Kite illuminates in this week’s magazine and to offer further insights into the issue, the Spectator’s Camilla Swift and Kirsty Henderson, campaign coordinator for PETA, joined the podcast.
So, was Kate Middleton wrong to flaunt her alpaca hat? Kirsty Henderson says so:
"There's no such thing as 'ethical fur' and let's not forget that the vast majority of the fur made in this world is not from animals who did (or did not) die of natural causes on a mountain in Peru. The vast majority come from animals who were factory farmed for their entire lives in tiny cages and denied everything that comes natural to them, before either being electrocuted, gassed or even skinned alive on some occasions."