Theresa May isn’t much given to shows of emotion. When Andrea Leadsom called her to concede in the Tory leadership race, May was preparing for the first event of her nationwide campaign. She went ahead and delivered her speech, giving nothing away.
But even May might be tempted to do a victory jig upon entering the leader’s suite at the Conservative party conference. Only a year ago, her leadership chances were being written off.
Second acts in British politics are vanishingly rare these days and Liam Fox, restored to the cabinet by Theresa May, is determined to make the most of his. We meet at his central London flat at half-past four on Sunday afternoon and even then the International Trade Secretary is beavering away: preparing for his meetings at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva the following day and finishing off his conference speech.
'I really, really hate rats,’ Sir David Attenborough has boasted. ‘If a rat appears in a room, I have to work hard to prevent myself from jumping on the nearest table.’ But why? Sir David’s answers are disappointingly feeble. A rat had once run across his bed. They live in sewers. They show no fear and ‘invade the area where you think you are boss’.
It is odd that a naturalist can hate an animal for simply doing what animals do — survive — and rather better than most.
‘There was never a consensus among economists that Britain should stay in the European Union,’ insists Professor Patrick Minford. ‘That was always rubbish.’
During the heat of the referendum campaign, Chancellor George Osborne asserted it was ‘economically illiterate’ to back Leave. ‘It’s Osborne himself who is economically illiterate,’ Minford shot back.
Three months on from the UK’s EU vote, Minford has reason to feel pleased with himself.
Last weekend a group of young activists turned out on a Moscow street to protest against western decadence. They were a hard-faced bunch, standing defiantly in military poses and wearing uniforms bearing the logo ‘Officers of Russia: Executive Youth Wing’ as they blocked access to an exhibition by American photographer Jock Sturges that featured images of nude adolescents.
‘We are here to protect people from paedo-philic influences,’ one Officer of Russia told journalists — while another protester sprayed the offending photographs with urine.
This week, the Tory party conference ought to be gripped by the question, who the hell is Nick Timothy, the vizier with all the power? To suggest that Theresa May’s joint chief of staff is the man behind our new PM’s manoeuvres is apparently misogynistic, but I’m a woman and I’ll say what I like. May’s regime change has been riveting, yet a core mystery remains: who precisely is in charge? We endured endless TV debates before last year’s election, but the person currently running the country was not on the podium.
The first presidential debate was a disappointment. Half an hour into the big Trump-Clinton show on Long Island, many among the audience must have asked themselves why they weren’t watching The Real Housewives of Orange County instead. The strangest exchange concerned how to defeat Isis. Donald Trump said, ‘They’re beating us at our own game with the internet’ and Hillary Clinton agreed that winning requires ‘going after them online’.
Advocates of New Zealand often boast that the country is like Britain was in the 1950s. This is all well and good if 1950s Britain is where you want to go on holiday, but it’s not for everyone. In fact, some might argue the main purpose of the past half-century has been to make Britain less like Britain was in the 1950s. What, then, are the options for those who would rather go on holiday to the Italian Riviera of the 1950s?
The answer, it turns out, is Croatia, which has pleasant weather late into the autumn, idyllic coastlines and a laidback glamour that seems like a distant memory on the French coast, with its terror worries and burkini bans.