No, seriously, does anyone know? I have a vague idea, which I think is perhaps the most anyone can ask for - it’s certainly as much as the Cabinet and Parliament as a whole seem to have. One minute the deal is agreed, next minute it might be rejected, then everyone tentatively agrees to it, now ministers are resigning and Tory backbenchers are out for blood.
If it wasn’t so terrifying that we are due to officially leave in just over four months it would be hysterical just how much of a disaster this whole affair has been. I rapidly cycle from genuinely sadness for those who voted to Leave genuinely thinking they would be making a better life for their communities, and absolute fury at those who are continuing to spout the same crap that was proved to be untrue even before we went to the polls.
Theresa May has negotiated a bad deal, but her hands have been tied the whole way by the harsh realities of Britain’s diminished global status, the changing realities of political cooperation, and the very Brexiteers that have still, with four months to go, actually produced a workable plan that won’t immediately tank our economy. In the effort to try and keep her government and her party together, she constantly bowed to the vocal Brexit minority, who gave her little manoeuvrability to produce anything better.
The real disappointment in all of this is Labour. Jeremy Corbyn’s disdain for the EU is well known, but the truth is that our membership is so integral and vital to our trade and supplies, that he should be using this opportunity to really rip the Government apart and tap into the rapidly growing calls for a second referendum.
Instead they continue to push the idea that a general election is what this country needs, with four months to go until we officially leave. Let’s not forget that Labour thus far haven’t actually produced an alternative plan either, opting to continually state that they would negotiate better and get a better deal - what is it though?! Their behaviour is no different to the Leave campaigners who got us into this mess, and until Labour wake up to the reality that no-one is going to vote for lukewarm platitudes about a Brexit that works for all (because apparently the 2017 election wasn’t enough of a message) then they will remain unelectable.
Brexit deal finalised?
I’m reluctant to include this, even though I’m typing it on day of publication, simply because by the time I press save it could all be out of date. The latest currently is as follows: Theresa May has managed to lock down a deal with the EU that, on the whole, sees us remain in the EU but without a seat at the table. We will have opted out of a few things, but will still pay for access to the single market, and there will be reciprocal residency agreements for EU citizens here, and Britons abroad. It’s a deal that absolutely nobody is happy with, including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, who resigned because he couldn’t support the deal it was his job to negotiate, and Esther Mcvey, former Secretary of Work and Pensions. The Conservative Party, and the hardcore Brexit supporting factions within it, are relishing in the chaos and seem to be gunning for a leadership election, although there is no obvious leader in waiting. Hopefully not BoJo.
The deal has highlighted the real impossibility of negotiating a Brexit that doesn’t destroy the UK economy, and begs the question of whether or not it’s worth leaving.
UPDATE: Like I said, just as I went to press publish, more news broke. Amber Rudd is now back in Cabinet as the new DWP secretary.
Video: The Guardian
Democrats take control of the House in US midterms
The US system of governance is designed in a way that has clear separations of power and checks and balances in place to ensure there isn’t a misuse of power. The Senate and the House of Representatives (legislature), the Supreme Court and the President all exist to ensure that no one body becomes too powerful or unchecked. However, since 2016 the legislative body was dominated by Republicans, and the with a Republican President it meant that they were essentially able to pass any laws they wanted, and with Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court it was even less likely they would be questioned.
That has now somewhat changed, with the Democrats overwhelmingly winning control of the House. The wave of blue didn’t extend to the Senate, where they actually lost seats, which likely means that the US Government will be in gridlock for the next two years - which is not necessarily the worst thing. Trump, to his credit, reacted in the calm and sensible manner we would expect by trying desperately to undermine the legitimacy of the elections by suggesting vote tampering, and then firing his Attorney General to someone he believes will close down the Russia probe for good. Oh, and let’s not forget that chaotic first press conference where CNN reporter Jim Acosta clashed with Trump, had his hard pass removed, only to have it reinstated by the court!
BBC launch a new international anti-misinformation initiative
The BBC have launched a big new initiative to help inform people about fake news. Called Beyond Fake News, the project launched with the release of findings from original BBC research into what makes people share false stories. The international effort will also include documentaries, special reports and features across the BBC’s international networks, and it will also draw on the work the BBC has already started in the UK to increase fake news literacy.
Jamie Angus, Director of the BBC World Service Group, says: "We have put our money where our mouth is and invested in real action on the ground in India and in Africa. From funding in-depth research into sharing behaviours online, to rolling out media literacy workshops globally, and by pledging to bring BBC Reality Check to some of the world’s most important upcoming elections, this year we’re carving our path as a leading global voice for spotting the problems, and setting out ambitious solutions.”
Government announces plans for a social prescribing academy
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that the Government plans to create a national academy of social prescribing, in an effort to promote non-drug health treatments. Speaking to health think tank the King’s Fund, Hancock said the organisation would be “a resource which GPs and other frontline health workers can draw on for guidance and expertise. Where they can learn what works, and what’s available in their communities.”
It is one of three social prescribing ideas that is currently being explored with ACE and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. There are also plans to use music to help people with dementia, and to use libraries to deliver social prescribing interventions like mental health reading groups, choirs for loneliness and dance classes for older people.
Source: Arts Professional
Pokemon Detective Pikachu trailer released
Everyone is getting worked up that Pikachu has hair when I think what we really need to be asking is WHY IS MR MIME SO CREEPY!
Toy Story 4 trailer released with new toy
Scheduled for release 21 June 2019, it seems like the gang are getting back together, with a new addition, the reluctant ‘toy’ Forky.
Stan Lee died, aged 95
The creator of Spider-Man, Iron Man, The Hulk and Thor, to name just a few, has died, aged 95. Stan Lee, born Stanley Lieber to Romanian Jewish immigrants, started working at Timely Comics at the age of 17. His first published story - “Captain America Foils the Traitor's Reve” - was published under the nom de plume Stan Lee, which he later adopted as his legal name. Editorial departures at Timely meant that at just 19 Stan became the interim editor and eventually rose to editor-in chief. He stayed in post for more than 30 years, interrupted only by World War II. Fans around the world will probably know Lee best for his cameos in nearly every Marvel film - ranging from DJ to delivery driver before Marvel confirmed that he was secretly Uatu, an extra-terrestrial being.
NPO’s reject ACE’s £1.8m YouTube network
An evaluation of Arts Council England’s £1.8m YouTube network Canvas has found that the vast majority of NPO’s rejected the offer. After undergoing revision following low signup in the first year, the three-year project finished with just 13% of ACE NPO’s joining the network - despite over three-quarters of NPO’s having their own channel on the platform.
The evaluation concludes that YouTube is not the best platform for engaging with arts-savvy audiences, stating that the plan was conceived during a time where the video platform was dominant, but is now competing with services like Instagram, Facebook, Netflix and iPlayer for people’s attention.
Source: Arts Professional
New David Attenborough series launches
Despite being 92, Sir David Attenborough shows no signs of slowing down. The multi-award-winning national treasure/documentary-maker saw a new series start in November that followed the plight of families in the animal kingdom. Starting with Chimpanzees in Senegal and Guinea - and the power struggle of the alpha male - the five-part programme will go on to explore look at lions, wolves, tigers and Emperor penguins.
Sir Attenborough was also announced to be providing the voiceover for an eight-part Netflix series that is to be released in April. “Our Planet” will showcase the beauty and fragility of our natural world. It is being produced by Keith Scholey and Alastair Fothergill who have previously worked on Blue Planet and Planet Earth, and is also being produced in collaboration with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
We have two new round-up series!
Following on from our fortnightly news summary Well, that happened...we have launched new monthly round-ups that bring you the latest news in theatre and music. From the theatre side we have the news of many new great shows getting ready to tour across the country, award ceremony announcements as well as a new West End child care scheme. Music has Kanye’s (Ye’s?) meltdown, the BRIT Award statue designer announcement, Fleetwood Mac’s tour and a new biopic of Amy Winehouse’s life.
As with everything we'd love to hear your feedback - what works, what doesn’t, what should we be focusing on or what needs to be binned. Let us know!