Political column – October 16

Laserdiscs, 3-D models of the pyramids, full length portraits of Angela Merkel... just some things (probably) on the EU's proposed list of items which can be imported into Northern Ireland without checks.

It is a "very generous" offer, say EU officials, and if Britain doesn't like it, it can get stuffed, they add.

The Northern Ireland Protocol has to be one of the worst international agreements signed by a British Government since Munich 1938.

Presumably Boris thought that it was so obviously rubbish that the EU wouldn't take it seriously. According to Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister himself never intended to take it seriously.

But rather than treating the whole thing as a huge joke the EU is a stickler for the letter of the law and for filling in the paperwork which it creates.

The protocol addresses a clear and present danger to the European project that the UK may try to smuggle dodgy sausages and house plants into the single market through the back door of Northern Ireland.

In the real world of real people, it is just a big bother with no discernible purpose beyond being a punishment clause which teaches Britain the lesson that Brexit was bad and it has to take those inevitable consequences that Monsieur Barnier warned us all about.

While ordinary people in Northern Ireland suffer through empty shelves as a result of the EU's successful annexation of the province, Leo Varadkar has put out a message to the wider world that the British are liars and cheats, not to be trusted.

So we are being lectured on the moral high ground by someone who thinks Eamon de Valera's "finest hour" was keeping Ireland neutral in the fight against Fascism.

Even ideological Remainers like Hilary Benn have had trouble with some of the EU's approach.

Probably the only thing to be said in favour of the Northern Ireland Protocol, and the reason such an abomination was signed in the first place, was that it got the Brexit deal with the EU over the line.

The wheels came off immediately. Nobody now bothers to pretend the protocol is working.

Beyond its existence as an entity and fantastical theological sticking plaster, what is it for? Does it actually benefit anybody? Is people for rules, or is rules for people?

There is a very pragmatic solution, which is to treat it as an unsettling ghost haunting the post-Brexit period, and to acknowledge that it exists, but to ignore it. This has actually been what Britain has been trying to do.

Sadly we haven't got away with it. Our friends in the EU, who tellingly never call Britain their friend and in truth don't seem to like us very much despite all the money we contributed, have noticed.

Meanwhile the race is on to "save Christmas." Save Christmas?

Hitler and his U-boats didn't stop Christmas. Even Oliver Cromwell didn't manage to destroy Christmas.

So there needs to be some perspective in the reports that Christmas this year "could be cancelled."

You don't need a lorry to deliver your prayers or to honour the traditional spiritual aspect of Christmas, which is thinking of others, and offering help and support to those worse off than you, of which there is unlikely to be a shortage.

If there is any threat to Christmas, it is to the capitalist, consumerist, corruption of the Christmas spirit, in which the festive season means eating and drinking yourself silly and giving your children overpriced toys and electronic gadgets which have contributed to them being the most miserable generation of children in British history, beset by a rising tide of mental health issues.


I had heard Elton John's hit Rocket Man a million times without having a clue what he was singing in the chorus. Eventually I looked it up on the internet.

It turned out to be "Rocket man, burning out his fuse up here alone."

In fact there are no end of hits where I don't know what they are singing, as enunciation isn't a strong point in the popular music genre.

I could quite believe that Billy Ocean's chorus is Go And Get Stuffed, and Desmond Dekker sang Me Ears Are Alight.

Brown Sugar, one of the greatest rock songs ever, has now been self-banned by the Rolling Stones after listeners twigged what Sir Michael is actually singing.

Brown Sugar is a model of clarity compared with Tumbling Dice. I challenge anyone listening to the latter to make out one word in 10.

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