ConHome Diary: Boris's Big Speech, No Sex Please We're Aussie MPs & Why Despite Brexit Europe Is Still Part Of Us

16 Feb 2018 at 12:42

Everyone gets rather overexcited whenever Boris Johnson makes a speech. The Westminster lobby do their normal thing and judge it through the prism of whether they can spot any split with Theresa May, even though they are fully aware that the whole speech has been pre-approved by Number Ten. His speech on Wednesday didn’t really contain anything new in terms of our negotiations with the EU, or how Britain might look post Brexit. But it was the first time anyone has articulated a really positive vision for the country and the opportunities which will prevent themselves. We need a lot more of this, and not just from Boris. I think it was also important that he made a plea to Remainers to recognise that there are opportunities for this country after Brexit, and while he recognises their strongly held views, he wants the country to come together. No one thinks that long held views are going to be abandoned overnight, but over time he’s surely right to sound rather more statesmanlike and less divisive. Given the reaction of some of the leading Remainers to his speech, though, I’m not sure they got the message.

Strewth! Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced that sexual relationships between Aussie MPs and their staff will in future be banned. It has not gone down well. No doubt there will be voices in this country that Theresa May should follow suit. It’s a total overreaction. Consensual sexual relationships in the workplace have always happened and no amount of rules can stop them. I don’t know how many MPs have ended up marrying their secretaries, but it must be in the hundreds. Are we really saying that perfectly happy and consensual relationships are wrong?
On Valentine’s Day morning the NRA sent out a tweet saying “Give your significant other something they’ll appreciate this Valentine’s Day. Underneath was a picture of two handguns. An hour later the Florida school shooting happened and 17 students and teachers were brutally murdered. They subsequently deleted the tweet. It was the 18th school shooting this year. Think about that.

This week I’ve taken part in a campaign called ‘Europe is Part of Me’ for Ancestry.co.uk. They offer a service where you send in your DNA and it tells you about your own heritage and where your ancestors came from. On average, 60% of our DNA comes from the continent of Europe. Some people think it’s a subliminal ‘Remain’ campaign but it really isn’t – I wouldn’t have taken part had it been so, but the facts are quite revealing. The 60% includes 23.14% Irish and 37.42% continental European, covering north, east, west and southern Europe, the Iberian Peninsula and European Jewish ancestry. Apparently 86% of us ‘feel’ European even if we don’t like the EU. I know from my radio show that there are some people who consider themselves European rather than British. And they’re not all called Anna or Alastair! Just my little joke. I do think this is one reason why another survey showed this week that Britain is the least racist country in Europe. In effect we are and always have been a nation of immigrants. There are very few of us who can trace our family trees back hundreds of years (and mine goes back to the 1500) without finding some foreign blood. I haven’t had my DNA results back yet, but I suspect I will have some French blood in me. I have a bit of a dark complexion and my grandmother’s maiden name was ‘French’. I’d say that was a bit of a clue…

The winds of change are certainly blowing through southern Africa at the moment. First Mugabe, now Zuma. Hopefully one or two other countries might be next. South Africa could be one of the most successful, thriving countries in the world but its progress has been threatened by massive corruption. If the new president can eliminate corruption there’s no telling how the living standards for ordinary South Africans might improve. The crime levels are also astronomical in some areas. Together, these two things are putting off a lot of foreign companies from investing in South Africa. Mr Ramaphosa will be judged on these two issues – eradicating corruption and attracting money to the country to create jobs.

I hope you’ve ordered in popcorn for UKIP’s conference on Saturday when 2,000 of their members will be congregating in Birmingham to decide whether to oust the hapless Henry Bolton as leader of their beleaguered party. If they don’t, they’re totally finished as a political force. But then again, if they do they’re also probably finished. There’s no readymade successor that isn’t called Nigel Farage, and he ain’t playing… At least I don’t think he is…