Week Ahead #1: Elephants, Zombies and John Bercow


It’s our last day in the old NS offices at Blackfriars today before we move into our new digs in Temple. I’m grateful for the reduced commute between HQ and my office in Parliament, but I’ll miss the old office.

We moved into it shortly after the 2015 election and since then we’ve covered two Labour leadership elections, the 2016 Scottish and Welsh elections, the Brexit referendum, the election of Donald Trump and the snap general election, so we’re saying goodbye to a lot of memories, and also to our dishwasher.

Here in Parliament, we’re expecting a quiet week. The only significant piece of legislation before the House is the Ivory Bill, which bans the sale of – you guessed it – ivory. Theresa May’s U-Turn on the ivory trade was one of the things that hurt her in the election and the Conservatives hope that going big on how much they love cute animals will improve the party’s standing.

Lend us your ears

Half of writing a good column is finding the right music to listen to. (If I ever find out what the other half is, I’ll tell you, etc. etc.) I’ll be adding to this Spotify playlist every week with what I’ve listened to while desperately trying to find synonyms for “the Labour leader”.

Out this week

Out in cinemas: Playing the Part follows Sir Ian McKellen reflecting on his acting career and his other job as an advocate for LGBT rights.

In non-fiction, lovers of passive-aggressive presents should check out Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Account, out Tuesday. Anthony Horowitz is the latest author to try his hand at writing James Bond: Forever and a Day is out in all good bookshops on Thursday.

I’ve just finished Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and it was brilliant: funny, heartbreaking and a real page-turner too. Patrick is making his way through Himself Alone, Dean Godson’s biography of David Trimble. Dulcie, who is sadly leaving us for the Times, is reading Classical and Quantum Cosmology. Jasper is reading Tina Brown’s Vanity Fair diaries.

In case you missed it

Who’ll replace John Bercow as Speaker of the House of Commons?

It’s Labour’s “turn” to fill the role of Speaker but that many Tory MPs regard Bercow as a de facto Labour mole means that some Conservatives are talkin up Eleanor Laing, his Conservative deputy, instead of Lindsay Hoyle, his Labour deputy and longtime favourite for the …read more

Source:: New Statesman


Theresa May’s hopes of a quick Brexit trade deal with Trump are ‘not going to happen’

Sir Peter Westmacott

Exclusive: Sir Peter Westmacott, Britain’s ambassador to the United States until 2016, tells Business Insider that it will be “extremely difficult” for the UK to negotiate a free-trade deal with the United States.
Brexit-supporting MPs have consistently trumpeted the prospect of a UK-US trade deal as a means of compensating for the economic hit from leaving the EU.
“I think this is all going to be extraordinarily difficult and will take a long time to negotiate,” said Westmacott.

LONDON — Britain’s hopes of a quick post-Brexit trade deal with the Trump administration are “not going to happen” the UK’s former ambassador to the US has told Business Insider.

Sir Peter Westmacott, who served in Washington during the Obama era between 2012 and 2016, told Business Insider that Downing Street’s suggestion that Britain will be able to forge a speedy, generous trade deal after Brexit would be “extraordinarily difficult” to fulfill.

“Number 10 is still hanging onto Donald Trump’s statement of support for Brexit, and promises that there will be a nicely-crafted free-trade agreement ready to go as soon as Brexit takes effect,” said Westmacott.

“That’s not going to happen. It is going to be extremely difficult for the UK to negotiate a free trade deal with the USA.”

“[It’s] not going to happen. It is going to be extremely difficult for the UK to negotiate a free trade deal with the USA.”

Westmacott said that while a quick deal was technically possible, in practice Britain’s negotiating clout would be significantly smaller outside the EU, which would tilt the balance of talks heavily in Washington’s favour.

“I firmly believe […] that our negotiating clout is much greater if we are in a group of 28 countries with a population of 450 million mostly prosperous consumers negotiating with America, with a population of 350 million people — a broadly similar sized economy and population — rather than negotiating on our own as a much smaller economy,” he said.

“If the size of your market is much smaller, there’s always going to be an imbalance in the negotiations. I think a deal of sorts would be attainable. But would it be a good deal — a genuine, comprehensive deal? I think not. If you wanted a quick deal it would probably be an inadequate one.”

Brexit-supporting MPs have consistently trumpeted the prospect of a transatlantic trade deal as a means of compensating for the economic hit from leaving the EU. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson …read more

Source:: Business Insider


BottleRock Day Two: The Killers, Billy Idol, World Record and more

Day Two of the BottleRock Napa Valley festival is now in the books.

Highlights from Saturday (May 26) included the Killers’ headlining set on the main stage, which featured such fan favorites as “Mr. Brightside” and “Somebody Told Me.”

Vocalist Brandon Flowers and crew also performed a nice cover of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “American Girl,” with a bonus snippet of “Free Fallin’.”

Somebody told me @thekillers @BottleRockNapa pic.twitter.com/Dk3RhEmu34

— Jim Harrington (@jimthecritic) May 27, 2018

Here’s @thekillers at @BottleRockNapa pic.twitter.com/9dNVElCj1g

— Jim Harrington (@jimthecritic) May 27, 2018

Fans enjoying themselves at @thekillers @BottleRockNapa pic.twitter.com/kkXnREZPfl

— Jim Harrington (@jimthecritic) May 27, 2018

Billy Idol definitely drew rave reviews from fans, as he rocked through “Rebel Yell,” “Flesh for Fantasy” and other classics. And hip-hop stars E-40 and Snoop Dogg also had mammoth turnouts for their sets.

Huge crowd for @snoopdogg. Hard to see or hear him. Back to @thekillers @BottleRockNapa pic.twitter.com/SKrfvMglUG

— Jim Harrington (@jimthecritic) May 27, 2018

Snoop Dogg also made an appearance on the festival’s William Sonoma Culinary Stage, where he was part of a team that set a Guinness World Record.

Mr. @SnoopDogg and crew break Guinness World Record at @BottleRockNapa https://t.co/0OaKWOViqD

— Jim Harrington (@jimthecritic) May 27, 2018

Many fans split their time on Day Two watching bands onstage and following the action going on with the Golden State Warriors, who managed to come from behind to topple the Houston Rockets in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

. @warriors mania is alive and well at @BottleRockNapa https://t.co/Z9AKHubRNx

— Jim Harrington (@jimthecritic) May 27, 2018

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There was, however, a bit of trouble outside of the venue, as …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News