Stop the world I want to get off


It’s a sad state when unelected and unaccountable judges step up to defend Parliamentary sovereignty

You couldn’t make it up. The loony right successfully outmanoeuvres a weak and spineless prime minister to secure a vote on Britain’s future membership of the European Union.

It wins with a promise that the electorate will be able to ‘take back control’ from faceless bureaucrats. The EU referendum is all about sovereignty, they claim.

But Theresa May’s definition of sovereignty is any act that bypasses parliament – using instead the royal prerogative to impose her will.

May’s determination to ignore MPs – denying them the right to vote on triggering Article 50 to leave the EU – was anti-democratic in the extreme. The leader of a tin pot dictatorship would have been embarrassed to try that trick.

Enter the judiciary – robed and bewigged – to stop her in her tracks.

It says something about the state of democracy in the UK that it takes three unelected high court judges to leap to its defence.

And then the loony right turns on them. Incandescent with rage, Nigel Farage said: “I worry that betrayal may be near at hand.”

Let us hope so.

The Government says it will appeal to the Supreme Court. If it looses there it can always try the European Court I suppose.

The Brexit vote was an act of madness. The consequences are already making themselves manifest. Even the price of Marmite is on the rise as a result.

I respect the vote in June. But there’s nothing that says stupid decisions cannot be re-examined and overturned. Pro-Europeans have every right to use whatever tools are at their disposal to ensure Britain stays in Europe.

I’d like to preface my next observation by saying that some of my best friends are political journalists. I don’t know what the collective noun for them is. I suspect it is something like ‘A Conspiracy…’

They are always putting two and two together and making five. And I have the suspicion that often they are writing for one-another. (I am sure I do them an injustice.)

For some reason, right-wing journos are always more entertaining than those on the left. Comrades are not allowed to laugh. The New Statesman, for example, with its socialist roots, is deathly dull. The Spectator, on the other hand, once edited by Boris Johnson, is invariably good for a laugh.

This week it held its annual parliamentarian of the year awards. Gone are the days when Northern Ireland members were in contention. I’m sure their day will come.

This year May picked up the top award. But it was Boris Johnson who inadvertently let the cat out of the Brexit bag with a Freudian slip of monstrous proportions.

Accepting the award for Comeback of the Year he said he was sure the Brexit negotiations would be “a Titanic success”. Cue Celine Dion. May buried her head in her hands as guests screamed out: “It sank.”

Talking of awards, it’s good to see Glamour magazine fighting the good fight for equality with its Women of the Year awards. And well done Bono – a worthy recipient. Bono is “grateful” for the recognition. What next? A reality TV star as President of the United States? Don’t be so silly.

I was once at an opera production where, when the lights went up, a patron was found dead in his seat having passed away in the final act.

I’d love to go out like that, slipping away quietly while the soprano spends 10 minutes telling us she is just about the draw her last breath.

But I’d have been pretty hacked off if I’d been at the matinee performance last weekend of Rossini’s William Tell at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

The building was evacuated at the interval when the orchestra received a light dusting of white powder. Dandruff always looks worse on a black jacket. In this day and age, we always expect the worse, and instead of calling for the Head and Shoulders, Homeland Security was brought in instead.

The opera was cancelled, as was that evening’s performance of the Italian Girl in Algiers.

The cause was not an opera-loving IS terrorist wielding anthrax, but mild-mannered Dallas music lover Roger Kaiser. Kaiser was fulfilling the wishes of a much-loved friend who had asked for his ashes to be scattered at the Met and other opera houses.

I was reminded of the late Sir Paddy Mayhew’s ill-judged remarks on arriving at Castleward Opera to be told there had been a grenade attack in Belfast. “Well, nobody is dead,” he said. “At the end of this opera, everybody is dead.” Now it’s a case of it ain’t all over until the fat lady is incinerated.

And finally, on Tuesday it’s the US Presidential election. Aided by the ever-suspect FBI, Trump is making a comeback. Let us pray.

  • This article appeared in The Irish News on November 5 2016