Skip to main content
The Knowledge logo

14 November

In the headlines

Britain and France have signed a security pact to reduce the number of illegal immigrants crossing the Channel. The agreed measures include a 40% boost in the number of officers patrolling the French coast, and more spending on surveillance equipment such as drones and night vision goggles. Jeremy Hunt has warned that “we are going to see everyone paying more tax” under plans to be announced in Thursday’s Autumn Statement. The Chancellor is also looking to slash public spending by £35bn, with cuts including a scaling back of the government’s energy support scheme so that it favours pensioners and benefits claimants. England’s cricketers are the Twenty20 world champions, after beating Pakistan in yesterday’s final. They are the first men’s team to hold the 20- and 50-over titles at the same time.


America is still our “sword and shield”

Everyone who knows anything about the Ukraine war “recognises a harsh truth”, says Max Hastings in Bloomberg: if not for America, Volodymyr Zelensky’s nation “would be toast”. The Biden administration’s intervention has been an “exemplary mingling of resolution and restraint”. Despite having a GDP only 25% larger than that of the EU, the US has provided more than twice as much aid – some $45bn in total. At the same time, Biden has ignored “bellicose voices” seeking to impose aggressive measures like a no-fly zone, recognising the “menace of escalation”. The crisis has “emphasised the largest fact in geopolitics”: that Western security is “entirely dependent upon US leadership”.

British politics

The “New Keir Starmer”

It’s as if Keir Starmer has been “struck by a bolt of lightning”, says Dan Hodges in The Mail on Sunday. Two weeks ago, the Labour leader was asked about his view on gender reassignment services and replied: “I feel very strongly that children shouldn’t be making these very important decisions without the consent of their parents.” In an interview on immigration, he said Britain was “recruiting too many people from overseas” into the NHS. And last Tuesday, he told the climate activists blocking the M25 to “get up” and “go home”. It’s clear what he’s thinking: the flailing Tory government is “there for the taking”, so he needs to “start speaking for the British people”.

From the archives

Back in 1941, Disney used a whole host of analogue instruments to mimic all the different sound effects of a train ride. Watch the full clip here.


Angela Rayner and I are “polar opposites, politically speaking”, says Sarah Vine in The Mail on Sunday. But I must confess, I have a “grudging admiration” for Labour’s deputy leader. She’s “authentically herself, potty mouth and all”, and I especially like her ability to laugh at herself. This weekend, she explained that for her 30th birthday she took out a £5,600 loan for a boob job: “I’d lost six stone thanks to my personal trainer, but my boobs just looked like two boiled eggs in socks. You know, like basset hound ears.” It’s the type of self-deprecating comment that makes me think “she’d be a right laugh after a couple of glasses of wine”.

Inside politics

The Republican Party’s disappointing showing in last week’s midterms appears to have destroyed the “marriage of convenience” between Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers, says the FT. The New York Post ran a front cover featuring an oversized cartoon of the former president as Humpty Dumpty (who “couldn’t build a wall” and “had a great fall”). On the same day, The Wall Street Journal published an editorial branding Trump the GOP’s “biggest loser”, with the strapline: “He has now flopped in 2018, 2020, 2021 and 2022.”


“It’s time to channel your inner 1990s grunge rocker,” says Vogue, because the humble checked shirt is this winter’s must-wear item. Ever since Kate Moss strutted down the Bottega Veneta runway in September wearing a blue flannel button-up, fashionistas have hopped on to the trend, layering plaid over white tank tops for a warm winter outfit. Pair with glossy hair, polished accessories and heeled boots, so the relaxed look “doesn’t stray into teenage territory”.

Quirk of history

The toothbrush was invented in the notorious Newgate prison in east London, says The Spectator. William Addis, an inmate there in the 1770s, wanted a better way of brushing his teeth than the usual method of “rubbing them with a rag”. Getting his idea from a broom, he took a small bone left over from his supper, drilled holes in it, bribed a guard to get him some bristles and fixed them in place. After his release, the invention made him a fortune. His most expensive brushes used badger hair; the lower end pig and boar hair. You can still buy Addis toothbrushes to this day.


It’s the latest work by the graffiti artist Banksy, depicting a gymnast doing a handstand amid the debris of a badly shelled building in Borodyanka, a town near Kyiv. Murals spotted in and around the Ukrainian capital led locals to speculate that the anonymous stencil merchant was at work: another piece, also suspected to be Banksy’s handiwork, shows a man resembling Vladimir Putin being flipped during a judo match with a little boy.


quoted 14.11.22

“I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of a national emergency. Even if I’m in a cabinet meeting.”

Ronald Reagan