Agenda: Jacob Rees-Mogg backs current head of the Tory party's nutter wing Boris Johnson
The New European
RICHARD PORRITT with this week's big stories.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, Brexit head-banger and anti-abortionist, used a fringe event at the Tory conference to back the current head of the party's nutter wing Boris Johnson. Speaking at a Bruges Group event he said: 'There has been too much crying into our soup and saying it is all frightfully difficult and we are only doing it because the British people want us to do it rather than because we think it is a wonderful opportunity for the nation. I think the Government has been too Eeyorish about it.' 'A wonderful opportunity for the country' Mr Rees-Mogg? A brain drain from the NHS, a battered pound and an uncertain relationship with our biggest trading partner does not appear to be a great deal for the British people. What Brexit actually offers is the political instability that creates vacuums for the likes of Johnson and Rees-Mogg to fill. Can you imagine a more depressing race for the leadership than one between these two? It could very well happen.
The Scottish National Party kick off their conference in Glasgow this weekend with leader Nicola Sturgeon keen to recapture the limelight from the Tory's new star north of the border Ruth Davidson. The battle lines are clearly drawn and the Tories are demanding she abandons all talk of a second independence referendum. Of course, she won't do that. Instead she will use Brexit to beat the government about the head demanding Scotland, and the UK, stay in the single market. The SNP may have had a bad election but Sturgeon remains a thorn in the side of the government over Europe. Perhaps she should focus on winning victories over Brexit before pushing for her own second referendum?
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Let's rewind to Brighton and Labour conference. As Sir Keir Starmer spoke in the hall a big beast of Labour past was stalking the corridors. As bruiser and former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott shuffled towards the hall he was beckoned over by a woman seated in front of a television streaming the action. The woman gestured Prezza – a twinkle in his eye – down before whispering in his ear. But don't fear Mrs Prescott – she was offering her seat. Baron Prescott happily accepted.
A smear campaign in the run-up to Austria's election has rocked the ruling Social Democrats. Sebastian Kurz's People's Party are ahead in the polls even though two recently launched websites have been spewing stories out attacking the leader. After media pressure the Social Democrat's Georg Niedermuehlbichler, party chairman and election campaign manager, was forced to deny any involvement in the online media campaign. He said his party 'neither ran, financed or administered' the websites adding they were 'horrible' due to xenophobic and antisemitic comments posted. However it was later revealed the online campaign was run by a former consultant of the Social Democrats, and a member of Niedermuehlbichler's team was also involved. Niedermuehlbichler promptly stood down accepting 'all responsibility'. The election was called after the ruling coalition collapsed in May. Right-wingers the FPOe, founded by ex-Nazis after the Second World War, appear to be set to make significant gains in the October 15 election mirroring the success of other anti-immigration parties across Europe.
Film fans in Italy are in for a treat – as long as they don't care for Hollywood blockbusters. The government has passed a new law stating every television channel must show at least one Italian-made film or show in prime time each week. And for the state broadcaster Rai the rules are even tougher – they have to double the quota. The law is a bid to boost Italy's flagging film industry and will be accompanied by a 400 million euro fund. And European productions will also be supported – by 2019, 55% of television dramas will be European, rising to 60% the following year. Not all the channels are happy about the new rules but they face huge fines if they disobey – as much as five million euros, or 3% of turnover.
The City of Love has got rather hot under the collar about a naughty sculpture that was due to be displayed by the Louvre. Domestikator, by the collective Atelier Van Lieshout, depicts a sexual act by two boxy figures. Doesn't sound too shocking? Well it is 12 metres tall, weighs 30 tonnes and was to be displayed outside. Some prudish Parisians complained and museum director Jean-Luc Martinez was forced to think again. He said he was concerned the public might 'misunderstand' the sculpture. It's not the first time risque art has caused a stir in France – in 2014 artist Paul McCarthy was slapped by a passerby when he unveiled his sculpture of a sex toy.
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