Richard Porritt's Agenda: Theresa's trade jolly, the gift of Momentum and smashing your head against a brick wall

PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 February 2018

Chinese president Xi Jinping

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RICHARD PORRITT with the week's big stories, including clear signals in Austria, snow in Switzerland and Sweden's most hapless burglar

And so Theresa May heads off on a trade jolly to meet China’s President Xi Jinping when ideally she needs to be at home facing down growing disquiet among the ranks – both in and outside her Cabinet.

It is a telling sign of Britain’s place in the world though that it took some tricky questions from the hacks onboard the plane during a chat at 30,000ft before human rights were even mentioned.

When previous Prime Ministers have jetted off to the East, China’s human rights record has often been top of the agenda. A great way to prove that Britain could ask difficult questions. These days it seems foreign trips are more about begging bowls as we desperately attempt to plug the trade gaps that will open up post-Brexit. May did promise to mention human rights. Expect that to be in private and some way down the list.

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So it turns out there is a Brexit impact statement. Well, that is good news – at least the Government is preparing for life post-Brexit.

But what will that life actually be like? Very, very bad according to Whitehall’s own assessment. That explains why the usually uber-confident Brexit secretary David Davis has appeared rather less so in the past few weeks.

And yet even faced with all this evidence the Brexit Bunch on the Tory backbenches remain adamant that the hardest possible exit from the EU is our best option. “I’m not worried,” said one Tory Euro-hater. “And I am sure the people of Britain will take all this with a massive pinch of salt.” It’s like smashing your head against a brick wall isn’t it?

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And so to Labour and another week of Momentum flexing their muscles. This week the impressive leader of Haringey Council, Claire Kober, quit after being targeted by the leftie group.

She claims Momentum members have subjected her to abuse over plans for a private partnership housing scheme in the borough. The final straw came when the now Momentum-heavy NEC stepped in and ordered the scheme halted.

When will Labour learn? In a week when all efforts should have been aimed at May’s flatlining premiership the opposition was fighting itself.

A Tory source said: “Thank god for Momentum. They are a gift.”

When Sebastian Kurz became Austria’s chancellor and the world’s youngest leader there were fears over how far to the right he may lean.

Those fears grew when he formed a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party.

But, credit where it is due, he has now faced up to some difficult home truths about Austria’s role in the Second World War – which is unlikely to go down well with his coalition partners.

Marking Holocaust Memorial Day he said: “Austrians were also actors and were associated with atrocious crimes of the Holocaust. We bear a clear historic responsibility that the new government clearly recognises.”

His words will hopefully send a clear signal to the Freedom Party and its members, one of who was revealed as being a member of a student fraternity that had written and sung disgusting anti-Semitic songs.

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Despite the huge amounts of snow that fell in some areas of Switzerland – leaving some skiers needing rescuing – January was actually the warmest on record.

Confusing eh? Well not really. Weather stations at Sion recorded temperatures a full degree higher than was expected. It was hardly balmy, though at just 4C before any wind chill is taken into account.

In many parts across the Alps it’s likely to have been the second warmest month since records began way back in 1864.

Meteorologists said the higher-than-average temperatures were due to a series of storms heading from the west and south-west. And there has been almost continuous warm air from the Atlantic which boosted temperatures and prevented cold air from stagnating.

So that’s cleared up – but this must be very confusing for the leader of the free world fresh from his trip to Davos. All that snow and yet the ‘experts’ claim it’s getting colder? Pah!

He was spouting his nonsense again on climate change last week in his interview with Piers Morgan – hardly Frost/Nixon was it?

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Golden rule of burglary: Don’t call the police on yourself. Seems a fairly simply one, doesn’t it?

But one hapless criminal in Sweden was left with no choice during a botched raid on a nightclub in Örebro.

As he tried to clamber in through a window his right foot became stuck in the gap. In the end he had no choice but to dial the emergency services and ask for help. He allegedly offered some weak mitigation.

Albin Öhrn, the nightclub’s manager, said: “It’s really funny. He wasn’t much of a thief, you might say.”

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