Speed 03 February 2017

Much like a remote control slipping between the cushions and whatever you call the hard bit down the side of your sofa, the single, dominating story of the past week fell down the gap between last week’s The Friday Speed Read and this. While all of us back here in good ol’ post-Brexit Blighty were burying our heads in the weekend, eating lunch and bemoaning the lack of decent Saturday night television, TM the PM was holding hands with dishy billionaire Donald J Trump on the immaculate lawns of The White House.

But that was small fry compared to what was to explode a few hours after TM the PM departed America (en route to meet with another handsome philanthropist: President Erdogan of Turkey) when President DJT signed an executive order closing America’s borders to all incoming people from a list of exclusively Muslim states.

The reaction around the world was instant, loud and sustained with even many federal employees refusing to comply with the order and legal action being taken to block the ban. One high-profile opponent was Acting Attorney General Sally Yates who was promptly sacked by The Donald for being like, really annoying.

Pictures of protests at airports began being broadcast and on Monday 10,000 people descended on Westminster to voice their anger both at the order and at TM the PM for her seemingly equivocal stance on the matter. Online, a petition began objecting to the invitation that had just been given to Trump for a state visit to the UK later in the year; in less than two days it had garnered over 1.5M signatures and our tousled Foreign Sec addressed Parliament and was a lot more negative about the ban than his boss had been – however, he concluded that making America Cross Again is a very bad idea for a country that’s just fallen out big time with all of its other friends.

The UK press greeted the ban with predictable levels of uproar (The Mirror – “You’re not welcome here Mr Trump”) and support (The Daily Express: “99% of our readers agree with the ban”) and in testament to the size of the story that not even the two-day debate and vote on the bill to invoke Article 50 and thus formally begin the UK’s exit from the EU could shift Trump from the front pages.

Given the upheaval that had occurred in order to force the Government to gain Parliament’s approval for the invocation of Article 50, the debate and vote was, in the end, something of an anti-climax. No one was in any doubt that the bill would be passed and although there were some notable speeches made over the course of the two days – Ken Clarke, a lone Tory dissenter gave masterclass in gallows humour and cartoon character Jacob Rees-Mogg wiped tears from his eyes and liked Brexit to victories at Agincourt and Waterloo – the general view was that this was happening so we’d better just get on and make the best of it.

That didn’t stop the The Daily Mail wheeling out its “enemies of the people” line once again (they must by now have a keyboard shortcut sequence to save the bother of typing it: Ctrl+borders?) for the MPs that voted against the bill but then cheered itself up with a picture of Big Ben and Winston Churchill.

Meanwhile on Planet Entertainment, Peter Capaldi announced he was going to stop acting in Doctor Who (Capexit? Doctor Whexit?) and Beyoncé announced that she was expecting twins. Time was that the rich and the powerful would announce familial changes in discreet notices placed in broadsheet newspapers but not Queen Bey who opted a more nuanced approach by publishing a picture of herself clutching her expanding midriff wearing only a matching pants and veil combo. She’s still ace though.

As the week began to wind down, the papers reported on the latest figures that show a growing UK economy and an error by builders in Greenwich who dug up a time capsule buried by Blue Peter in 1998 and not intended for opening until 2050.  But rest assured, its contents of a Spice Girls CD, a Tamagotchi, Tinky Winky from Teletubbies and hope for the future of humanity are all quite safe and are going to be responsibly re-interred.

And there we go. Another week has passed and we’re all still here so at least that’s something. Have a great weekend and stay strong in the face of the current salad shortage that’s seen lettuce rationing imposed by Tesco.

Oh well, it’ll have to be pizza then.

Let’s end with a bit of Beyoncé (who is so famous her name is auto-corrected by MS Word to include the acute accent) and a favourite scene from Series One of Glee which before it was rubbish was genuinely one of the smartest shows around. The best bit is the coach on the side line: