Brexit reflections from Shanker Singham

15 Jan

Here is the latest in our series reflecting on the Brexit process with regular BrexitCentral authors and and others who have played an important role in our journey out of the European Union. Here are the answers to our questions from Shanker Singham, who is Director of the International Trade and Competition Unit at the […]

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Help us raise £500,000 to get Big Ben to bong for Brexit

15 Jan

Under Article 50, by law, the United Kingdom will formally leave the European Union at 11pm GMT on Friday 31st January. This means that those who wish to celebrate this historic moment will need to look to a clock to mark the time (exactly as on New Year’s Eve). The natural choice for this would […]

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Marcus Rashford injury: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits FA Cup gamble ‘backfired’ as star man set to miss Liverpool clash

15 Jan

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is pessimistic about the chances of Marcus Rashford playing against Liverpool after his gamble on the striker’s fitness ‘backfired’. The forward was introduced as a substitute in the second half of Manchester United’s FA Cup third-round replay win over Wolves on Wednesday night, but limped off after just 15 minutes. Solskjaer admitted […]

NI Office and Dept of Finance at odds over the financial package for new Executive

15 Jan

The Northern Ireland Office has announced the new financial package for the new Executive. I did detect when I was up in Stormont on Saturday some nervousness about the exact nature of the commitments that would materialise from the British government and how much would be new money. Today we got our answer £1 billion. Note it’s the not the £2 billion extra as billed, since £1 billion is what we were getting anyway and we don’t know what’s happening … Read more

Tottenham’s new signing Gedson Fernandes is a ‘Jose Mourinho version’ of Harry Winks, says Adrian Durham

15 Jan

Jose Mourinho has signed Gedson Fernandes because he is not convinced by Harry Winks, according to talkSPORT host Adrian Durham. Tottenham completed the 18-month loan signing, with an option to buy, of Fernandes from Benfica. It raises questions about how Mourinho will fit all his midfield players into his team and whether Winks will warrant […]

Less spotted deal provisions – ‘Fiscal Council’

15 Jan

Lesser spotted deal provisions can be interesting when picking apart a new political settlement, especially as the underlying funds threaten to pick it apart anyway. It has been commented upon that this is a good deal, indeed Newton Emerson used more colourful language in describing the “identitarians” who would turn down this deal. Possibly extra cash, difficult issues ‘oven ready’ to be dealt with and significant changes to the cultural policy of our public institutions here. I would have liked … Read more

Conor McGregor baffled by Tyson Fury’s claims he offered him MMA training, but sets conditions for the heavyweight boxer to receive his help

15 Jan

Conor McGregor has denied speaking to Tyson Fury about training the heavyweight boxer in mixed martial arts. Fury claimed he was planning to crossover sports in the future and had been in contact with the Irishman. The 31-year-old boxer, who is preparing for his rematch with Deontay Wilder in February, even said the former two-weight […]

Real Madrid hero Federico Valverde receives just one-match ban for cynical tackle in Spanish Super Cup final against Atletico Madrid

15 Jan

Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde received just a one-match ban for his red card in the Spanish Super Cup final against Atletico Madrid. The 21-year-old hacked down Alvaro Morata as the striker was bearing down on the Real goal and was rightly sent off for the cynical challenge. The Uruguayan made himself an instant hero […]

My Box Set Bingeing with ‘Madam Secretary’

15 Jan

I always like a good binge over Christmas – no, not on babysham or egg nog, but on a box set or two.

Last Christmas it was Game of Thrones, which somehow I had avoided over the years. I got to the end of Season Three, by which time I was thoroughly confused by the plot (is there one), and by the fact that the show has so many characters that I rather lost track of who they all were and who had been killed off.

This year I thought I’d try Madam Secretary, a US series about a female Secretary of State, obviously designed to be a replacement for the late lamented West Wing. I was searching for it on Netflix when I came across another political series called Secret City, which is a Netflix Original and filmed in Canberra. It’s more Bodyguard than West Wing, and has a big spy element to it.

Secret City

When I saw that my namesake Alan Dale, who played Jim Robinson in Neighbours was playing the Aussie Prime Minister in the show, I thought I’d give it a go. It’s cliffhanger-tastic and runs over two series, and I can highly recommend it.

So I then moved on to Madam Secretary on Amazon Prime. This ran for six series, and I was hooked right from the start. As in West Wing, there’s a lot of walking and talking but the plot lines are superb, and as in the West Wing they often run over more than one episode.

The main character, Elizabeth McCord, comes to the job after her predecessor’s plane crashes in the Atlantic. She’s a former CIA agent who drifted into academia, and the thread that runs through the series is her battle with moral dilemmas.

She likes to think she runs an ethical foreign policy, but quickly realises that this is impossible. The action is split between her role as Secretary of State and the conflicts that it poses with her family life and relationship with her husband, Henry, who also turns out to be a secret agent.

The story lines regarding Russia and Iran are superb, if sometimes a little far-fetched, and I was actually watching an episode about a potential war with Iran when I found out about the killing of Soleimani. Madam Secretary runs over six series and 120 episodes. I’m now on episode 40! It’s well worth your attention.

Occupied

Madam Secretary is so good that it’s kept me from starting Season 3 of Occupied!

Ajax star Donny Van de Beek set to join Real Madrid this summer despite Manchester United interest

15 Jan

Real Madrid have agreed a £47million deal with Ajax for Dutch playmaker Donny van de Beek, reports claim. The Netherlands international drew interest from a number of top European clubs for his brilliant displays in Ajax’s superb run to the Champions League semi-finals last season. And he has continued his red-hot form this campaign, having […]