When a British government loses control over parliament, the natural remedy is to hold a general election. Why prolong everyone’s agony? But despite Theresa May having now failed twice to pass her signature Brexit deal, there is no sign she is willing to go back to the country.
Jeremy Corbyn is keen for an early election to break the deadlock and others are beginning to agree with him. Asked this week what would happen if the government’s deal was rejected for a second time, a cabinet minister replied: ‘an election in two weeks’ time’.
Almost three years have passed since Britain voted to leave the European Union, and yet we are still no closer to a Brexit resolution than we were on that June morning. No one is in control and this country’s whole system of governance is creaking. We are in an interregnum that shows no sign of ending.
What is remarkable about this moment in our history is that something must break the impasse. This means that, although Theresa May’s deal suffered the biggest defeat ever for a piece of government business and was defeated a second time by a three-figure margin, it is not dead yet.
What a baffling group of people anti-vaxxers are. They rail against one of the miracles of modern medicine, peddling scare stories about vaccines which had nearly eradicated many deadly childhood illnesses in the developed world.
Baffling, of course, is too soft a word for many: they’re dangerous, because their anti-science views don’t just put their own children at risk, but wider society. The uptake of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine in Britain is at 87.
Being a street preacher can be a thankless business. Since moving to Britain from Nigeria nine years ago, 64-year-old Oluwole Ilesanmi has toured the country reading aloud from the Bible, spending hours outside train stations, urging people to see the light. Sometimes he makes a convert; most of the time his preaching falls on deaf ears. Last month, it resulted in him being arrested.
Saturday 23 February began like a typical day for Ilesanmi.
I first met a tarot reader in a hotel lobby in central London on my birthday four years ago. I was a book critic at the time and was aware that the cards had inspired writers from W.B. Yeats to T.S. Eliot and Italo Calvino — perhaps there’s a novel in this, I thought. This was serious research. I was less interested in my destiny than I was in the way tarot worked.
That was just as well because no sooner had I sat down than my reader piped up: ‘This has been an especially trying time for you and I’m afraid that it isn’t going to get easier.
It is more than 15 years since the Bloody Sunday soldiers last appeared in public. For months I sat in the room with them to watch their evidence at Lord Saville’s inquiry. And while Lionel Shriver is right that the sight of terrorists benefiting from an immunity denied to our soldiers is grotesque, there are competing qualms. Not only because British soldiers should be held to a higher standard than terrorists.
One of the great things about touring with a band is that it gets me away from my little west London bubble and out and about around the towns and cities that I haven’t been to in quite some time. So off we go with my new boots and panties and my escape-from-the-band book, Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show, loaned to me by your very own Michael Henderson. The revamped, reformed, post-Sex Pistols punk popsters The Professionals are on their way.
The Celtic Tiger has come and gone. Over the past 30 years, billions of pounds poured into Irish houses and then drained out again. The ruins of Ireland have slumbered on through the peak, the trough and the current blessed recovery. Medieval castles, Georgian country houses, Victorian lodges… They cling on, disappearing under the ivy, slowly crumbling, in demesnes across the island of Ireland.
As Robert O’Byrne, aka the Irish Aesthete, writes in his new guide Ruins of Ireland, we tend to think Ireland lost most of its great houses as a direct result of the Troubles of the early 1920s.