Ordinarily, the Supreme Court sits in panels of no more than nine. All 11 justices will hear the government’s appeal, to avoid any suggestion that the composition of the panel might make a difference to the outcome. Caution is understandable: judges differ in philosophy, temperament and in how they understand their role.
Lord Neuberger has been the court’s president since 2012. He has denied that the UK has a (proper) constitution and asserted that joining the European Convention on Human Rights has been a journey from ‘the dark ages’ to ‘the age of enlightenment’.
For once, a cliché is justified: the government’s appeal to the Supreme Court next week really will be a landmark case. The underlying issue could not be greater: the political future of the United Kingdom and its relationship with the European Union. The number of judges could not be greater either: 11 is the largest panel to have heard a single appeal, not just since the court was created seven years ago but since its predecessor was established in 1876.
Last month a rich, boastful alpha male savoured the greatest victory of his life in New York City. Almost no one thought he could do it, but he made it look easy. In the build-up he ridiculed his opponent mercilessly and feuded with enemies on Twitter. ‘I’d like to take this chance to apologise,’ he said straight after his win, ‘to absolutely nobody!’
This wasn’t Trump Tower, but Madison Square Garden.
It often seems like the European referendum campaign never really ended. Everything from budget forecasts to Britain’s Olympic performance is simply the cue for another round of In-or-Out arguments. But Simon Wolfson, the mild-mannered chief executive of the high street fashion chain Next, is trying to move things on. Having been one of the biggest business names in favour of leaving the European Union, his aim is to form a coalition between Leavers and Remainers to forge a certain type of Brexit.
It is more than possible that before any Brexit deal is discussed, let alone concluded, the EU will have effectively collapsed. And the key factor could be the demise of Algeria’s leader of 17 years. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is 79 and has needed a wheelchair since having a stroke in 2013. ‘His mind is even more infirm than his body,’ one observer tells me. Bouteflika returned home recently after a week’s stay at a private clinic in France.
If you’ve missed the endless articles whingeing about pub closures, it must be because you’ve been too blotto to focus. It is impossible for a mediocre drinking hole to close its doors for the last time without some thirsty hack reaching for his collected George Orwell essays and waxing lyrical about the Moon Under Water and the death of the English pub. It’s true that many pubs are closing (27 a week, according to the Campaign for Real Ale) and demographic changes have called last orders for numerous decent pubs — and some gems — in areas where changing populations have seen demand dissolve quicker than a morning Alka-Seltzer.
Inventor of the silky teabag, take a bow. You have achieved something that until now no one would have thought possible. You have taken an item so simple, so perfect, so completely suited to its purpose that the idea of ruining it had occurred to literally no one — and you have ruined it. You have ruined the teabag.
I first encountered this abomination a couple of years ago. Shoreditch, inevitably, in one of those places with a blackboard proclaiming their Instagram handle and a witty quote.
It’s the Brits wot won it. That is, the US presidential election was won for Donald Trump with the help of a bunch of British nerds — data scientists from a company called Cambridge Analytica. This was the claim, at least, made by the company in a press release a couple of days after the election. ‘No one saw it coming. The public polls, the experts, and the pundits: just about every-body got it wrong.
Have you, on hearing the story of the princess who felt a pea through 40 feather mattresses, ever thought that she was, well, a bit of a wet blanket? One measly dried pea through all that padding and she wakes up black and blue with bruises? ‘I can’t tell you what I’ve suffered!’ she quivers in an 1846 English translation from the Hans Christian Andersen original.
Ah, but you don’t know the whole story.