Why Conservatives have learned not to voice their opinions at literary festivals

Zoe Williams is quite right about the participants at literary festivals and their political monoculture (I’m sure rightwingers read books. But you’ll never meet one at a literary festival, 17 May). It isn’t that rightwing, centrist or apolitical people don’t read books, but that in the main they do not self-describe as intellectuals, so are less likely to attend such gatherings; perhaps more significantly, it is a disconcerting experience being an outsider when, as Williams says, the audience is very keen to establish its leftwing credentials.

UK isolated over Northern Ireland protocol as US-EU alliance rules out renegotiation

The UK’s isolation over its plans to tear up the Northern Ireland protocol has been underlined by a new US-EU alliance ruling out a renegotiation.A delegation of US politicians, led by a close ally of Joe Biden, agreed a joint statement with members of the European parliament following a meeting in Paris.It calls on Boris Johnson to abandon planned legislation to override the international agreement, arguing that the protocol “protects the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts”.In a press release following the interparliamentary meeting, congressman Brendan Boyle announced that a statement had been agreed upon, part of which...

Full protocol implementation would mean economic tsunami, says DUP

Implementing the protocol in full would result in “an economic tsunami” hitting Northern Ireland, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said.Responding to a tweet from a member of the US House of Representatives, the DUP leader said that calling on the Northern Ireland Protocol to be implemented in full was “such folly”.He said: “Implementing the protocol in full means ending grace periods, with an economic tsunami hitting Northern Ireland. Power sharing only works with cross community consensus.“There is no unionist support for the protocol. The protocol will destroy the GFA if not dealt with.”US House of Representatives’ member Brendan Boyle...

Boris Johnson’s ‘oven-ready’ deal has left us with egg on our faces

A corrupt and narcissistic leader has backed himself into a corner after a dirty campaign, driven by propaganda and lies; he has trashed international treaties, justifying his actions through deliberate political and historical falsehoods, propagated for decades by pliant client media; and now he is looking for a way out of a seemingly doomed situation.

Liz Truss rejects plea from Biden ally not to rewrite the Northern Ireland protocol

Liz Truss is resisting pressure from a close ally of Joe Biden not to rewrite the Brexit deal’s Northern Ireland protocol, saying she will not let the impasse “drag on”. The foreign secretary is facing concerted pressure from senior US politicians on the issue. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, has already warned that she could endanger any hopes of a free trade deal with America.

Naomi Long says UK Government has used Northern Ireland as ‘bit of a play thing’

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said the UK Government has sometimes used Northern Ireland as “a bit of a play thing” which is “damaging” relations and devolution.“I understand [the DUP’s] lack of trust in the UK Government because I think at times the UK Government have used Northern Ireland as a bit of a play thing when it comes to maintaining a grievance with Europe,” Ms Long told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme.“They’re willing to continue to have this constant grievance with the European Union and Northern Ireland is a useful lever for them.“But it’s very damaging for...

Irish language: Thousands attend Irish language rally in Belfast

Thousands of people have attended a rally in Belfast on Saturday calling for Irish language legislation. Protesters marched from west Belfast to the city centre in an event organised by Irish language activist group An Dream Dearg. Legislation on a cultural package, including protection for the Irish language, had been...

Should we worry about inflation?

As rail, teachers and council workers head towards clashes on pay, inflation is upending the pecking order on pay, and public sector workers risk being left behind. Bonuses in the private sector employers are ensuring at least some workers' pay stays ahead of rising prices. Should we worry about inflation?...

Mick Jagger says Brexit ‘has not been a success’ for UK touring industry: ‘It’s a nightmare’

Mick Jagger has said that Brexit has been a “nightmare” for the music touring industry.Since 2016, there has been much talk about the impact leaving the EU will have on artists looking to tour Europe.This has included obstacles in obtaining visas and work permits in the EU, as well as transporting equipment across borders and other problems facing artists coming to the UK to perform.In a new interview, Jagger, 78, opened up about struggles of Britain “isolating ourselves” through Brexit for musicians.“There are a lot of supply-chain problems,” he told The Sunday Times. “A lot of shortages, a lot...

Nancy Pelosi comments slammed by DUP leader as ‘unhelpful’

An intervention by US Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a row over the Northern Ireland Protocol has been slammed by the DUP leader as “unhelpful”.Ms Pelosi said the US Congress will not support a free trade agreement with the UK if the Government persists with “deeply concerning” plans to “unilaterally discard” the protocol.In a strongly-worded intervention, Ms Pelosi urged the UK and the EU to continue negotiations on the post-Brexit trade arrangements to uphold peace in the region.The congresswoman said in a statement: “The Good Friday Accords are the bedrock of peace in Northern Ireland and a beacon of hope for the...

Lewis and Javid oppose using windfall tax to battle cost-of-living crisis

Two Cabinet ministers have voiced their objections to imposing a windfall tax on oil and gas firms to address the cost-of-living crisis.Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under pressure to introduce a one-off levy on firms which have benefited from globally high oil and gas prices and use the revenue to fund measures to ease the cost-of-living crisis on households struggling with rising bills.Chancellor Rishi Sunak has not ruled out the tax, though Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said such a move “doesn’t really work”.“It puts off investment both in that sector and, absolutely, the risk in others,” he told...

UK ‘unprepared’ for soaring food prices and shortages, says head of government advisory body

The UK is unprepared for huge food price hikes and shortages of essential goods that will be triggered by the Ukraine war, the head of a government advisory body fears.Ian Wright has told The Independent of growing concerns that there is no proper plan for a “scary” future of disrupted food supplies, warning: “This is a bigger crisis than energy.”Russia’s blockade of Black Sea ports has left 25 million tonnes of grain stuck in Ukraine – threatening famine in the poorest countries, but with stark implications also for the UK, which relies on food imports.Cooking oil, which is used...