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The Spectator Podcast: why May’s Brexit deal is hard to stomach, but the alternative is worse

9 November 2018

4:05 PM

9 November 2018

4:05 PM

As Theresa May prepares to unveil her Brexit deal, we ask: just how bad is it, and what happened to ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’? In the American midterms, the Blue Wave didn’t happen, but Democrats did take control of the House of Representatives – what next for Trump’s presidency? And last, as we approach Remembrance Sunday, who are the lives we are remembering, and is it time to move on?


First, Theresa May is serving up two unpalatable options on Brexit – her deal or no deal. If we take her deal, Britain risks being tied to the EU forever through the customs union; but if there is no deal, the country will face a period of instability and disruption that we are simply not prepared for. James Forsyth argues in this week’s magazine that she is serving up an impossible choice. He joins the podcast together with Charles Grant, Director of the Centre for European Reform. Charles summarises the British Brexit conundrum:

‘The trouble with this negotiation all along has been that one side holds nearly all the cards, the other side – the UK – holds very few cards. And if you’re leaving one of the world’s largest trade blocs, you’re going to be pushed around and bullied by that trade bloc.’

In America, the midterm elections are always a good indicator of how the electorate feels about a president. So what does it say about Trump’s tenure so far that the Republicans strengthened their hold on the Senate, despite losing the House of Representatives? Freddy Gray argues in this week’s magazine that it shows that Trump knows what he’s doing. We go to Chatham House to talk to Leslie Vinjamuri, head of the US and the Americas programme there, and Kate Andrews, political commentator. Kate tells us:

‘It wasn’t a blue wave so much as it was a purple puddle… The Democrats clearly won the House and that will be a victory for them, but interestingly, the Republicans have picked up seats in the Senate, so you have a truly divided Congress to reflect a truly divided nation.’

Last, it’s a hundred years since the end of the Great War. It’s also the first time that Liz Hunt, consulting editor at the Daily Mail, has visited her great uncle’s grave. Danny died at the age of 24 in 1918. She writes powerfully in this week’s magazine about remembrance. Liz joins the podcast with Glyn Prysor, chief historian at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Liz tells us what she found at the Allied cemetery in Niederzwehren:

‘There was a loneliness to it, a melancholy to it, and that was really brought home when you looked at the graves that had nothing on them. Some had a few weathered wreathes here or there, or a little photograph or something written. But the vast majority had nothing.’

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