If you read one thing today, read this: “Britain is being led to an epic act of national self-harm” – by Will Hutton @williamnhutton

Well done to Will Hutton, in the Observer, for marshalling the words to brilliantly sum up what I have been thinking since June 24th 2016.

I am not one of those who feel despair about our country. But I am old enough to have experienced what economic hardship and chaos feels, to an extent. This isn’t going to be pretty. Numbed by the valium of insane and misplaced national pride we are sleep-walking to the most awful economic disaster.

Here’s a sample of what Will Hutton says today:

Every day in Britain, 14,000 trucks come from and head to the European Union. If there is no Brexit deal with the EU, is every one of those trucks going to be inspected as they bring vital food and goods into the UK to see that the right tariff is being charged and correct regulation observed? If some trucks get delayed or traffic volumes plummet, who will organise food rationing in our supermarkets? Five days before a general election called to give the government a negotiating mandate for leaving the EU, is anyone aware of the risks?

Equally, a quarter of British exports with the EU pass through one single port, Calais – £3bn a month – with zero border controls or inspection. Who in Calais is going to inspect these goods to see if they correspond to EU rules if we crash out with no deal? Has France any interest in investing quickly in the customs structure to keep British exports flowing? The M20 and M2 will become gigantic truck parks as drivers wait to be inspected. You might think that, just as a precautionary measure, as the prospect of the exit talks collapsing is less than two years away, the UK government would be investing in customs inspection depots in our great ports and along the land border with Ireland and also offering to build similar structures in France to ease the inevitable congestion on UK roads. Surely someone, somewhere might have asked these questions?

Nothing is being done at all. Mrs May and her breezy lead negotiator, David Davis, offer platitudes about Britain embracing the globe and no deal being better than a bad deal, but even the most innocent negotiator in the EU team can see this is vainglorious posturing. They are betting on a deal being struck – negotiators with few cards, nor making sure they hold better ones. As matters stand, the consequence of no deal would be calamitous.

You can read the full article here.

Portugal is in grave danger of giving the Eurovision Song Contest a good name

Every so often the Eurovision Song Contest throws up a decent song. However, through the fug of time, it is usually very difficult to think of them (apart from “Waterloo”). The 1961 British entry “Are you sure” by the Allisons was certainly a good song IMHO. “Si”, or at least the English version “Go” by Gigliola Cinquetti of Italy in 1974 was superb.

But last night the winner knocked me sideways. The winner “Amar Pelos Dois” by Salvador Sobral from Portugal was an absolutely superb song. You don’t have to understand Portuguese to be entranced by the lilting vocal and the hypnotic melody. Well done Portugal say I!

Here is a great interview with Salvador himself:

Tim gets aboard a hovercraft. What could possibly go wrong?

This (above) is a slide show courtesy of Getty Images. Click on the arrows to see all five photos of Tim’s glorious descension into Burnham-on-Sea yesterday

Well, you have to admire the pluck of Tim Farron. As a keen student of Liberal History, I am sure he is aware of the intimate details of Jeremy Thorpe’s 1974 hovercraft adventure. That was the year of two elections – one in February and one in October. In fact, if you ask the great Paul Tyler, he will tell you all about this, because he was MP for Bodmin (but, crucially, not actually “Going Bodmin”) from February to October and then had to wait until 1992 before returning to the Commons as MP for North Cornwall. Jeremy Thorpe was the charismatic leader of the Liberal Party at the time. He hit upon a marvellous idea to campaign to the populace during the summer hiatus before the October election, which was long anticipated. Continue reading