We’ve been patient, as the numbers of disenfranchised voters have grown. We’ve watched from a distance as major decisions about the future of the UK have been made without our involvement. Decisions that affect us deeply. It’s time to give us the voice we’ve so long been promised, and in time for the next general election. Even if the government might not like what we have to say.
Steve and Tim discuss the deep fake behind the recent Mars space mission and the relative cost of the UK’s test and trace programme.
After years of claiming Britain is being ‘stifled’ by EU regulations that need scrapping, a government task force headed by Iain Duncan Smith to identify such rules, doesn’t even have the repeal of any of them as one of its objectives.
Charlie McCarthy looks at the new agency, Aria, which will attempt to maintain British influence in scientific innovation. He explains how it could allow the government to fulfill its ‘levelling up’ agenda, depending on where the new HQ is located.
Alexander de Pfeffel seeks advice from the Gardeners’ Question Time panel and audience on his tunnel plans. “Visionary British infrastructure gardens have a great future, if only the woke gardeners, with the greatest respect to our friends and partners on the panel, weren’t so obsessed with making their doom-laden predictions that plants need to be cared for, fed, watered, protected from harsh conditions and warmly held in a loving lefty embrace if they are to survive.”
Sir Ivan Rogers, former UK permanent representative to the EU, spoke yesterday of his optimism that the UK will eventually seek a closer relationship with the EU again. But he maintained this is not on the government’s agenda at all at the moment. Instead, he foresees a “bumpy” short-term future of “spiky” relationships.
Charlie McCarthy explains Boris Johnson’s anticipated ‘big bang’ method of allowing children to return to school. He lays out the concerns from scientists and some school staff that he is rushing the process, perhaps risking an increase of the R number.
At some stage, Starmer is going to have to acknowledge the damage that Brexit is inflicting to businesses, to a range of sectors such as the arts, and to different parts of the country. Some industries like fishing will never be the same. If, as he said today, this is a call to arms to diagnose the condition of Britain, then he has to recognise the symptoms and treat them – and that includes the negative impacts of Brexit.
Lord Frost is appointed to cabinet as his disastrous trade deal starts to look like the greatest bargain of all time – for the EU. They get the jobs and tax revenues in exchange for ‘giving’ us what we already had, sovereignty. It is a slap in the face for Britain.
One other sinister and covert weapon used against trade unionists is now getting some attention: the extent to which the police and security services have mounted surveillance and undercover operations against trade unionists and political activists since the 1960s.
Winning from Opposition is hard. Labour is entirely right to face towards the future and to have a laser-like focus on winning votes. But it should recognise that giving Johnson space to create a narrative that says the pandemic caused all the harm and Brexit is our ticket to a bright new future will only harm Labour’s chances.
Jake Berry’s new plan is just Thatcherism 2.0, and won’t help the Northern Research Group keep their seats. Thatcher is still broadly hated in the North – is Berry heading for the same fate?
London’s position in the global league table of financial centres has slipped further with a new survey showing just a third of senior executives believing that the City will be a leading hub in five years’ time.
Education specialist Sheila Smith denounces the mistake of unnecessarily leaving the Erasmus+ scheme after Brexit. “From the little we know so far, Turing focuses only on higher education. It shows a poor understanding of the years of quality, rigour and development behind Erasmus+.”
Kerry Pearson, as part of the Biden 100 series, looks at America’s response to the military coup in Myanmar. She considers the cost of democracy in Joe Biden’s foreign policy agenda.
Jon Worth asks, how bad does Brexit have to get before the government admits that it made a mistake? “However you look at it, this makes no sense. It’s no longer about whether or not you voted for Brexit, or voted for this government”.
The fact that the Northern Ireland protocol – designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland – is being put to the test so early, is no big surprise. It was always going to result in additional customs checks somewhere, and those checks landed firmly at the Northern Ireland ports, for goods crossing from Britain to Northern Ireland.
Roger Winterbottom wonders whether Boris Johnson is an experiment in a new field in robotics and machine learning: Artificial Gormlessness. Can he pass the Turing test and convince us that he’s human?
As there were no local elections in 2020, two-thirds of district councillors face election in May. This opportunity for a protest vote and, perhaps, even shift the balance of power is unprecedented and unlikely to be repeated. Voter apathy may therefore be the Conservatives’ best electoral weapon.
Michael Hindley looks at just how isolated Britain is going to be in post-Brexit trade talks, and the difficulty of ‘rollovers’ in trading. “Brexiters are in for shocks of recognition, as they realise that the key decisions in world trade will be made elsewhere. Washington, Beijing, Tokyo and the World Trade Organization in Geneva. Brexit Britain is truly on its own.”
People who have done all things that Conservatives traditionally value, have been put in an impossible position by a series of government decisions. Most of these people have worked hard, saved their money and after years of struggle finally got to the point in life where they can afford to buy a small place at the bottom of the property market. Only to find that their bills for insurance and for repairs have gone through the roof and the value of their home has collapsed.
As the practical impact of the bureaucracy and red tape agreed as part of the NI protocol become clear for businesses and citizens in the province, there are worrying signs of tensions rising between London and Brussels.
Marc Limon looks at the significant decision Facebook’s new board will have to make in a few weeks time: should Trump be indefinitely barred from Facebook? Alongside this, he looks at recent cases the board has overturned, including posts about Muslims in Myanmar and ‘fake news’ in France.
Kerry Pearson reviews Biden’s first couple of weeks in the White House. His focus has been on reversing Trump-era legislation, rolling out the vaccine, restoring multilateralism and increasing welfare benefits for those impacted by the pandemic.
Which MPs are earning the most from second jobs? David Davis tops the list, along with 6 other Conservative MPs, who are regularly earning £288,098 a year.
Kerry Pearson considers the paths that Biden can take with his Catholicism. Will he move towards the centre, to reconcile the nation, or will he move further leftwards?
Treating people with respect, and celebrating difference, makes economic and financial sense and adds value to any workforce. The DWP is a government department responsible for welfare, pensions and child maintenance policy. Welfare is part of its remit, yet it is failing its own employees. Certainly, unconscious bias training for its civil servants appears to have largely fallen on deaf ears.
I look forward, with interest, to see what japes you might come up with next. Having a jester for a prime minister doesn’t always look wise, but it sure can be a lot of fun in these depressing times, so keep up the good work!
Welcome to Schroedinger’s Border. This is the border in the Irish Sea which the UK government negotiated and which the UK government says doesn’t exist, and which is both there and not there as long as it’s kept in a box and nobody looks at it.
Kenneth Branagh is to play the prime minister in a sky drama, set during the pandemic. I’d hesitate to give such an outstanding Shakespearian notes, but he may wish to dust off his copy of Twelfth Night. In the steward Malvolio, he’ll find an arrogant character convinced that cavorting about in an oafish manner, preferably while wearing an outlandish outfit, will win him the approval he desperately seeks.