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Speed Read: Olivia Colman to rescue us from Brexit? Simples!

Every week, The Friday Read offers up its services to you in exchange for no more than a smile and a thank you; these services include ironing, basic alchemy and a round-up of the week’s biggest stories. 

Maybe we should ask Olivia Colman to sort the stultifying, endless mess that is our departure from the European Union? And yes, we’re sorry to yoke together two unrelated happenings but, hey, if you’d spent the last two-plus years writing a weekly news review column then your reserve of “new ways to talk about Brexit” would likewise resemble The Friday Speed Read after a 10K run: i.e. exhausted. Here’s what’s left on ours:


  • In semaphore from the top of Bristol’s Cabot’s Tower
  • Via a long, long-form opera, a bit like Wagner but instead of Valkyries, featuring TM the PM in a pointy bra
  • Inspired by Massive Attack, encoding the collected speeches of David Davis into strands of synthetic DNA and injecting them into every living creature on the planet
  • Er . . .
  • Not talking about Brexit

That said, following her widely reported acceptance speech after winning the Oscar for Best Actress (for her role in The Favourite, a brilliant but profoundly strange film), Olivia Colman could probably bring sanity and charm to about anything right now. “Hello Kim Jung-Un; I’m Olivia. You’ll probably remember mefrom Peep Show; now about those nuclear weapons . . . . “. But seriously, she gave a lovely speech and it made for a much more pleasant Monday morning media trawl than normal.

Shall we get the Brexit chat over with then? Okay, keep strong. Well, following last week’s political fissures (many people have started calling Chuka Umunna and The Independent Group, “TIGgers” – and we can confirm that their bottoms are indeed made out of springs, we’ve checked), the week has been not without significant Brexity developments. Still without the concessions she needs from the EU who, having exhausted all of the world’s 6,500 extant languages is now making up entirely new ways of saying “no”, TM the PM once again delayed the “meaningful vote” on her not-yet-revised Brexit deal. In doing so, she also made a concession designed to placate her Remainer MPs and stop more of them jumping ship: after two years of saying that the UK would definitely leave the EU on March 27th (and she was still saying this even up to last week), TM will now allow parliament to vote to delay Brexit should it wish it to do so.

Such are the times, this significant (and enforced) shift in TM the PM’s policy wasn’t even the biggest Brexit story this week. That accolade is awarded to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party for its decision to finally demand a second referendum if TM can’t get a deal though the Commons. The news filled Tuesday’s front pages, with the Daily Express the most red-faced and riled (which to be fair, isn’t surprising given the only thing it’s ever loved more ardently than Brexit is Princes Diana): “Our FINAL say in Brexit was June 23rd 2016!” it bellowed.

So, will there be a second referendum? Will Brexit be delayed? Will TM the PM recover her dignity after quoting the Compare the Market ads on the floor of the House of Commons – “If he wants to end the uncertainty … then he should vote for the deal. Simples” ? We’ve no idea but when fictional Russian talking meerkats are invoked at times of national crisis then, frankly, there’s nothing left to surprise us. The idiots have not just taken over the asylum; they’re leading a rapid, nationwide expansion of the asylum, with franchise options available, and a range of merchandise manufactured in far eastern sweatshops (we’re looking at you, Comic Relief).

Hasn’t it been warm this week? Positively balmy, with the record for February temperatures broken two days running. But that’s the problem isn’t it? February temperatures. It shouldn’t be 20 plus degrees in February, a fact happily ignored by the Sun which took a positively Trumpian view of the heatwave: “FABruary! – Britain baked in glorious sunshine!”. Elsewhere, the media took a more nuanced position on the unseasonable weather and expressed much concern about global warming (before then going outside for a lunchtime sandwich and sighing happily as the warm sun kissed its pale wintery cheeks).

Talking of Trump, he’s had quite the week. On the eve of his second meeting with Kim Jung-Un, his former lawyer Michael Cohen testified in front of the House Oversight Committee about his ten years in the service of Donald J. And well, let’s just say he didn’t hold back: “Trump is a racist, a conman and a cheat” was the neat triplet he handed to the world’s media which the world’s media received gratefully with a large grin on its face. And that was just for starters, how about this perfectly constructed rhetorical flourish:

He is capable of behaving kindly, but he is not kind. He is capable of committing acts of generosity, but he is not generous. He is capable of being loyal, but he is fundamentally disloyal.

Ouch. Now, it must be said that Cohen will be going to prison for previously lying to Congress, so his relationship status with the truth reads “it’s complicated” but it made for excellent, excellent television and that’s probably (and sadly) more important right now. Meanwhile in Vietnam, Donald Trump was getting busy putting his legendary deal-making powers to good use in persuading K J-U to stop building nuclear weapons. Except these powers seem to be waning: K J-U said that he wasn’t going to stop building nuclear weapons unless all sanctions against North Korea were removed. Trump said no. And then everyone went home early.

There’s just time for a rifle through the deck of cards that is “other news this week” and, if we didn’t have enough problems, India and Pakistan traded military blows in Kashmir causing a good deal of panic for obvious (and nuclear) reasons; Prince William told us all to calm down over Brexit (“Chill says Wills”- The Sun); Labour MP Chris Williamson was suspended by the party after saying Labour has been “too apologetic” about Antisemitism; and a wall of Roman graffiti in a Cumbrian quarry from AD207 is to be preserved for future generations by capturing it in a special 3D image – highlights include a cartoon of the soldiers’ commanding office and a picture of a willy. Nothing really changes.

Finally, lauded composer Andre Previn died this week aged 89. His career spanned film scores, jazz, and classical and he was widely regarded as a genius. In the UK, however, he’s still probably best known for this appearance on Morecombe and Wise’s Christmas show in 1971. Please ignore the man talking at the start of this clip; it’s worth persevering we promise:

Have a good weekend.

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