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Every week, The Friday Speed Read disappears to a Chequers country retreat to ignore the very clear problems impacting the country – only joking, nobody would be that selfish, would they?
Despite Groundhog Day being three weeks ago, this week started much like the last – with the promise of a monumental storm that would throw the country into disarray. Unfortunately, for once tabloid hyperbole proved true, as the extratropical cyclone has been one of the most intense ever recorded.
While it was the winds of Storm Ciara that stole the headlines last week, with trees being uprooted and trampolines being thrown at cars, Storm Dennis has resulted in large portions of the country witnessing the worst flooding of recent times. At time of writing, hundreds of people across South Wales, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire have been evacuated from their homes – it’s fine though because the Environmental Agency has confirmed its flood defence systems are working. We clearly have different definitions of the word…
Sadly, Boris Johnson has proven to be about as much use as a lifeboat made of sugar, seemingly ignoring the flooding to focus on repair work at his Chequers country retreat. It’s a step up from hiding in a fridge, we guess. Twitter responded by asking the question on everyone’s lips – where’s Boris? We were disappointed to discover this was a serious question and not the launch of a Where’s Wally spin-off. Finding a man that looks like the love child of Donald Trump and Ellen DeGeneres wouldn’t be all that taxing.
While hiding from the flooding, it seems Boris and co were busy finalising its new ‘Australian-style’ points-based immigration system which only allows skilled workers to enter the country. On closer inspection, the FT revealed this week the proposed system is actually set to be much tougher than the Aussie rules, as it only applies to overseas workers that have already secured employment with a UK-based organisation, therefore completely ruling out skilled workers who want to relocate then find work. So while Australia wants to attract the best and brightest, it seems Boris wants to attract… nobody.
The nationals reacted as you’d expect – the Daily Mail splashed with the celebratory “Immigration Revolution”, the Guardian pondered over the negative impact such changes would have on the UK economy, while the Daily Star ran with “Curry crisis”. That’s right, who cares about the stability of our economy and our ties with other cultures when our onion bhajis are at risk?
Onto the Royals now as it’s been 34 days since Megxit and the media is still in complete outrage that someone who was born into unfathomable wealth and prestige would choose love over money. The couple were photographed for the first time together since last month, which has stirred up further resentment somehow. Why are they carrying their own bags? Who do they think they are? How dare they be happy! The Daily Star went so far as to call Prince Harry a ‘tightwad’ before demanding the couple repays the £2.4m of taxpayers’ money used to renovate their Frogmore Cottage home. Personally, we’re just pleased to know that Prince Phillip didn’t give them a lift to the airport.
Talking of Royal car crashes – no, not that one – this week marked Prince Andrew’s 60th birthday. After what seems like weeks of discussion, common sense prevailed, and government buildings weren’t forced to fly their flags to honour the birthday of an alleged sex offender. He did decide to push ahead with his birthday party plans though, the worst decision he’s made since that ill-fated interview with BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis. He had apparently hoped to have a glitzy party with friends, family and charity colleagues, but he was apparently left humiliated when plans had to be changed as only 12 people attended. Speed Read wonders why…
OK, it’s quick fire news time as the word count is running away with us. It’s today been announced that Lloyds boss António Horta-Osório has lost his status as Britain’s best paid banking boss after his pay was reduced to a measly £4.7m. Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this difficult time. Stormzy’s career has apparently ‘peaked’ after being the first ever recipient of a Gregg’s Black Card, while scientific research has proven that ‘beer goggles’ really do work – something tells us Edge Hill University may be about to lose a research grant.
We close out this week’s Speed Read not with the usual fun and games, but with the unenviable task of marking the tragic passing of TV presenter Caroline Flack.
The response has been equal parts heartfelt and frustration, as it seems everyone is trying to work out where to point the finger of blame. The Labour Party is calling for a fight back against press intrusion, Downing Street wants to hold social media firms accountable for the content posted on their platforms, while a large portion of the public wants to see Love Island axed as this is the third suicide linked to the programme in two years.
Although more needs to be done to ensure both traditional and social media take stock of systems which clearly aren’t working, this should be the catalyst for widespread change. Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time on social media will have either witnessed or been subjected to insults which impacted their mental wellbeing.
Rest in peace Caroline Flack – here’s hoping that your story is one that results in more people considering how their words can impact others. It doesn’t take anything to treat people with the respect they deserve. #Bekind