Flavour of the Week


The Slog looks at the highs and lows of the next seven days.



Today is the 79th anniversary of Neville Chamberlain grudgingly declaring war on Nazi Germany. Owen Jones was minus 54 at the time and thus didn’t take part; but you can be sure that, at some time in the coming week, the Boy Wonder will be urging everyone to smash Nazis. Owen sees Nazis everywhere: in the BBC, at the Daily Telegraph, in Hungary, under the lavatory seat and very probably up his back hole. The only certainty this coming week is that he will write about them.

Another near certainty is that the BBC will have lost another 10,000 licence payers by midnight next Saturday. Most people seem to be very happy about this. Especially Rupert Murdoch.

Everything else is a tad up in the air. To my utter astonishment, now that Britain is close to getting a comprehensive trade deal with India, what’s being called a “high-level” European Union delegation will be in that very country this week. Well I never. The EU has done some estimates which show that, with Commission help, India has the ‘potential to unlock around €430 billion of value by 2030’ and I’d be willing to be that the man looking for the passepartout key will be Guy Verhofstadt. He will not, however, be alone: this little jolly consists of seventy (that’s seven-oh) bureaucrats. I’d call that Very High Level.

MEPs will be back at their desks (more accurately, benches) this week following summer hols during which they were chased everywhere by panic-stricken UK Cabinet members. High on the agenda (despite all the high level apparatchiks being in India) is a naked attempt by Brussels at a bit of virtue signalling: the EC plans to grant citizens and businesses in non-euro area countries the same conditions as euro area residents when making cross-border payments in euros. The last thing they want right now is any Brexit contagion.

In fact, the last thing they want is Brexit. Michel Barnier and Emmanuel Macron were said to be softening their stance last Friday, speculation that made Sterling surge and evoked immediate strong denials from both men. This week, “talks” will continue, just as Stonewall Barnier warns us all yet again that a Brexit deal including an Irish Border solution is “a long way off”. I do love Mad Michel: he keeps saying no and then blames the other side for not saying yes. It’s an effective strategy, but could be so easily spiked by simply walking away. With European stocks slumping last Friday (on fears surrounding the state of trade between the U.S. and other blocs, not least the EU itself) and Italian bond rates continuing to rise, the Sprouts have a poker hand that clearly isn’t high level. But don’t expect the UK Brexit delegation to push its advantage: that’s not the mission.

Today is Labor Day in the US, but the highlight of the week for investors will probably be the US Jobs report next Friday, expected to show the U.S. economy created 190,000 new jobs with the unemployment falling to 3.8%. Any expectation of reality in these figures will, of course, be entirely unjustified. It’ll be a sort of low-level highlight hyped up by the White House to the highest possible decibel level.

Westminster politics returns to what passes for normal this week. As expected, former Brexit secretary David Davis has promised to vote against the Chequers Turd at every opportunity, and former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has written another visceral column in today’s Torygraph. These men used to be high level, but the coup they and Jacob Rees-Mogg promised has so far been decidedly low level.

The Jewish community in the House and at large isn’t going to let go of the ‘anti-Semite Corbyn’ rabbit, but later this week the Labour Party will be unveiling its new rules to show that anyone questioning the approach of Netanyahu will be summarily shot by high level Momentum leaders who have abandoned their commitment to Peace.

Also completely normal is Labour’s concern at a high level with matters of very low electoral level interest. On Tuesday, Dr Rupa Huq has bagged debating time on women’s rights after the UK leaves the EU. She is concerned, it seems, about the “gendered nature of the effects of Brexit”, and thinks women have the most to lose. Whether she thinks the  women of Spain, Italy and Greece have rather more to lose will not be discussed, probably because such an ungendered idea would never have entered her head.

Elsewhere in Europe, it’s a bit more lively. Last week’s session between Viktor Orban and Matteo Salvini has the European Right excited about the formation of an anti-immigration partnership in the very near future, and Sweden’s electors go to the polls next Sunday more divided than at any time in their history. Popular concern over migration looks likely to propel the right wing anti-immigration Sweden Democrats to perhaps 20% of the vote. Three years after the European migration mess reached Sweden, the media has reported an endless stream of petrol-bombed cars, grenade attacks and shootings (129 in Stockholm last year alone) mostly in socially deprived areas with a high level of migrant unemployment in general and Islamics in particular.

As with Mayor Khan in London, acceptance of a social disaster in the making has been low-level at the highest levels, and so many Swedes are turning towards the Democrats who, just five years ago, had almost no support at all.

Such is the effect of the peace-loving European Union’s financial, economic and migration policy: countries doing just fine before mass departures from Northern Africa and Berlin Bonkers Austerity programmes cocked everything up now find themselves in something of a pickle: Holland, Sweden, Austria, Italy, Greece, France and Germany have all seen a lurch to the Right.

But then, this is what happens when one allows lowlife at the highest level to gain power without having to face the voters. Recep Erdogan in Turkey is busy ensuring that he will not be required to do any of that nonsense in the future. This week will see more severe pressure on his currency, and perhaps result in him not being required at all. Hurrah.

From the Weekend Slog: the rising muddle of Brexistentialism