Section: UK

Did donations to the Conservatives buy a Kremlin Brexit?

Sadie Parker

In July 2020 the Intelligence and Security Committee’s (ISC) long-awaited Russia Report was finally published. Completed in July 2019 under the leadership of then ISC Chair Dominic Grieve, it went through extensive checking, vetting and approval processes before being presented to prime minister Boris Johnson in October 2019. Normally, such a report would be cleared […]

Former Finnish PM nails #BrexitDisaster in one tweet

Anthea Simmons

Maybe our shortest article yet! It’s simple. Brexit is bad for business. End of. Oh…and we did this to ourselves. Not the EU’s fault. Alexander Stubb, former prime and finance minister of Finland, spells it out: Write to your MP and explain that we need to get back into the single market and the customs […]

Think Brexit’s all over? Wait until the grace periods end…

Sadie Parker

Despite the best efforts of 87 per cent of the mainstream media (by circulation) trying to distract you from the battering Brexit is giving to business up and down the UK, news is at last filtering through. And, bad as this news is, we have yet to see the worst because the Trade and Cooperation […]

Adieu Erasmus, bonjour Turing? A French perspective

Geneviève Talon

The celebrated Erasmus Plus programme started as a large-scale exchange programme for university students across the EU. It also provides grants for a wide range of activities, including the opportunity for students to undertake work placements abroad and for teachers and education staff to attend training courses. In 2018, the European Commission adopted an ambitious […]

“Fascism has never gone away…” Letters to the editor from Spain

Mike Zollo

The following is a compilation of the comments made by members of Bremain (in Spain), most of whom are Brits living in Spain or who know the country well. These comments are their reactions to the West Country Bylines article Democracy breaks up from the inside, which went online on 25 February. Lisa Ryan Burton […]

Abandon hope all youth who grow up here

Sadie Parker

“Am I gonna sit here and say that Brexit is perfect, and your generation is gonna reap the benefits? No, I’m not, because you’re not, frankly, at the minute, and I can see that. We’ve got work to do…” So said Andrew Bowie, Conservative MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, addressing an audience of under-30-year-old […]

“DEFRA says get over it”: Brexit threatens to wreck Devon mussel business and DEFRA don’t much care

Julian Andrews

“DEFRA says get over it”, according to Nicki Holmyard, talking to West Country Bylines, and describing the response from the department for environment, food and rural affairs since live shellfish exports to the EU collapsed in January 2021. Nicki is Communications Director of the Brixham-based aquaculture firm Offshore Shellfish Ltd, which – in common with […]

Debunking Covid-19 myths: part 5 – a closer look at Lateral Flow Tests UPDATED

Emma Monk

One of the areas where I keep coming across a lot of misinformation relates to Covid-19 testing. I covered all the various misconceptions surrounding polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, including what it can and can’t detect, whether there are lots of false positives and whether the inventor of PCR really said PCR shouldn’t be used […]

In conversation with David Nicholas Wilkinson: on making documentaries

Sadie Parker

Actor, producer, distributor and director David Nicholas Wilkinson is a regular fixture at the London Screenwriters’ Festival, generously sharing his experience with eager new writers and filmmakers. This year was no exception, although the format was different, of course, with everything online in one format or another. David chose to do his slot by Zoom, […]

100 days of Brexit: the impact on animals

Anthea Simmons

We are such a nation of animal lovers that we barely stopped to consider the ramifications of Brexit on pets, equestrian sports, showing and breeding, and swallowed all the reassurances about food and animal welfare standards with barely a murmur. Not many of us stopped to consider the impact of a US trade deal on […]

A briefing note for POTUS: time to review the UK’s ‘closest ally’ status?

Eric Gates

Eric Gates imagines a very necessary briefing for President Biden in the wake of developments on the UK side of the pond… Mr President; you were briefed after your election about the United Kingdom’s  request to acquire the next generation nuclear deterrent from us. Since then, the UK Government has published a policy paper entitled […]

Peaceful protest in action

Rachel Marshall

After a year of signing online petitions the government will simply ignore, this Saturday feeling a mixture of anxiety and compulsion, I went back to the streets to protest – while I still can – against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill at one of the 25 protests that took place across the UK. […]

Has Brexit made us less safe?

Sadie Parker

Prior to the referendum and for a few years afterwards, Sir Richard Dearlove appeared to dominate the conversation on security, at least from a pro-Brexit stance. Dearlove is a former head of MI6, the British security service responsible for countering threats from foreign sources. His omnipresence and stark opinions drowned out the voices of other […]

The unstoppable march of the masts

Mick Fletcher

Most of us want it both ways.  We are keen, often desperate, to get improved mobile coverage. At the same time, we don’t want our precious landscapes scarred by ugly and alien structures. Reconciling the two will always be tricky. However, a little-known piece of legislation called the Electronic Communications Code (EC code) tips the […]

Meet the modern Victorians

Sadie Parker

There is something familiar about Brexit ideology, and what’s alarming is that the ‘something familiar’ consists of philosophies and slogans that were debunked decades, even centuries ago… On closer inspection, it looks as if five of the most prominent Brexiters have become ‘modern’ Victorians. Yarn-spinner Hannan Daniel Hannan, who metaphorically speaking has wet dreams about […]

Helping the police with their enquiries

Mike Zollo

Police interpreting: racism and xenophobia ‒ hardly a new phenomenon The southwest of our country has always attracted many Europeans, and not just tourists: many work in our schools, hospitals, hotels and restaurants, for example… and one mustn’t forget the language students who attend language schools in so many of our towns and cities. They […]

Les rodomontades de Boris Johnson: How the French see us

Anthea Simmons

You won’t find too many fans of Boris Johnson in France. He is regarded as “a greedy pig who kidnapped our vaccine doses”. My sister-in-law commiserated with those of us in the UK who aren’t fans either, saying “You’ve got fascism. We’re getting it next year with Marine le Pen”. Great. Just what we need… […]

EXCLUSIVE: Johnson plans to reclaim Doggerland

Sadie Parker

Details have leaked of the Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s ambitious plans to reclaim Britain’s submerged ancestral lands off the east coast of our country, known as Doggerland. When asked about it at a private function for a minor royal from a middle eastern state with a big cheque-book and a penchant for […]

Racism is a pandemic and we are not handling it well.

Anthea Simmons

I was in two minds as to whether to put out the article below in the light of the publication of the Sewell Report. We will cover the report in full very shortly…urgently. Its message, if the extract below is anything to go by, must not get a hold on the popular consciousness. This is […]

Remain’s favourite filmmaker: David Nicholas Wilkinson

Sadie Parker

In February the London Screenwriters’ Festival ran an inspiring online event that gave screenwriters and filmmakers a much-needed boost. The early part of the year is traditionally a low-point. This year, in the midst of lockdown number three and after the hardest-ever year for the arts (despite the clamour for content), the mood was particularly […]

This Good Earth – recording of WCB event now available

Editor-in-chief

For those who missed the West Country Bylines event on 11 Feb 2021, the director Robert Golden has produced an audio record of the proceedings. As it was a recording of a zoom event, the sound can be erratic so please make allowances. The event was a special Q&A session following the release of Robert […]

Hey, Jean! Meet genealogy!

Sadie Parker

A woman called Jean caused a stir when she phoned in to LBC and told David Lammy, the UK’s Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, that he wasn’t English. He was born here, grew up here and all his sensibilities are English, but that doesn’t count, according to Jean. He can […]

Nigel Farage and a very murky forest

Tom Scott

Nigel Farage has joined forces with a Dutch fund manager found to have misled the public to promote “carbon offsetting” through forestry. The conspiracy theorist behind Cornwall’s weirdest hotel is also involved. So how exactly does this motley crew intend to save the world? Eyebrows were raised yesterday when a company calling itself Dutch Green […]

“I’m pro-statue, pro-flag…” Johnson speaks to his fans

Sadie Parker

From the silence on social media, you might not know that the Conservative Party has just held its Spring Forum. I expected to see lots of clips of stirring highlights and favourite snippets from the various panel discussions, but apart from the Prime Minister’s keynote address and a speech by party chair Amanda Milling, it’s […]