‘The government has relished wearing the green jersey on Brexit and standing up to the British with the help of the European Union — and been aware of the political benefits of doing so,’ thundered Pat Leahy in the Irish Times last week. ‘But now the pitfalls begin to emerge from the fog.’
Leo Varadkar gambled on the British government either cancelling Brexit or getting roped in by the backstop to accept Brexit in name only.
Ever since Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader of the Labour party, many of his MPs have dreamed of deposing him. They’ve tried mass shadow ministerial resignations, a no-confidence motion, even a formal leadership contest — but to no avail. Some, like Chuka Umunna, left the party, hoping (in vain) that others would join their breakaway group. Other MPs gave up hope, resigned and found jobs outside of politics — concluding no plot would ever work.
Cynical old hacks like me have been amused by the chorus of establishment applause for the Mail on Sunday’s great Kim Darroch scoop. Our elected masters were outraged, rightly, by threats from the Met’s Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu to criminalise editors who publish leaked memos. Politicians left, right and centre condemned an assault on press freedom. Alan Rusbridger, saintly ex-editor of the Guardian, demanded to know what they taught budding bobbies in police college these days.
Why do we need tie-breaks and photo finishes? If competitors have been nip-and-tuck all the way, why can’t they just share victory? England supporters who watched the ICC Cricket World Cup final might have been febrile with joy when the extra-time ‘super over’ ended in another tie, giving England the margin on boundaries, but New Zealand’s Black Caps lost by less than a whisker. Why shouldn’t they have halved the triumph? Why shouldn’t Roger Federer, who went toe-to-toe with Novak Djokovic in the longest-ever Wimbledon final, have lifted one side of that famous trophy?
The answer is that human beings need resolution.
Have you ever seen a Pole on British television? Poles are the biggest immigrant group in Britain, numbering between 900,000 and one million, so you might think they would be all over the TV. But no, there are hardly any. There is a Polish character on Coronation Street, who might turn out to be a sex-trafficker. There was also a Polish character on EastEnders, although the actor who played him left the show to become the Pole on Coronation Street.
East Kent is bracing itself. Its Church of England clergy are enjoying their last quiet months before Rose Hudson-Wilkin arrives as the new Bishop of Dover in the autumn, replacing Trevor Willmott. History is being made — the C of E is to have its first black woman bishop. But some members are clutching their heads in despair at what they see as Justin Welby’s predictably flashy appointment. Behind the scenes, there’s a lot of sighing going on.
Everyone agrees something dramatic has to be done to help the NHS. It is crumbling and the canary in the mine is general practice. I work as a psychiatrist but my GP colleagues are almost all frazzled, overworked and frustrated at not being able to give the care they want to their patients. They’re quitting in their droves. So it makes sense that politicians, desperate for a quick and easy answer to an overwhelming and complex problem, have leapt on technology as a solution.
The confusion is understandable. You arrive at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon, keen to experience the quintessential cottage garden — only to be told that Shakespeare’s garden was, in fact, designed in the 1920s.
The space in front of an Elizabethan cottage would have been used for keeping pigs or hens, with a patch for cabbages or onions. Any flowers or herbs would have had medicinal or practical uses, not least for strewing on the cottage floor to disguise the stench.