Skip to main content
The Knowledge logo

20 September

In the headlines

Surging gas prices could lead to a 1970s-style three-day week this winter, says The Daily Telegraph, as Bulb, the UK’s sixth-largest energy company, threatens to go under. Boris Johnson blamed the crisis on the global economy bouncing back post-Covid, “like everybody going back to put the kettle on at the end of a TV programme”. Some spy the hand of Russia, says David Sheppard in the Financial Times. State-owned gas giant Gazprom is being noticeably stingy with its supplies to Europe. Meanwhile, “bonfire night could go off without a bang this year”, says The Sun. The price of fireworks is expected to rocket 50%, partly because Chinese factories have been too busy celebrating 100 years of communism to make them. Princess Beatrice has given birth to a baby girl.

Comment of the day


Upping the ante with China in the Pacific

If the definition of political courage is “making big calls crisply and effectively”, despite the risks, then it seems to me Joe Biden and Boris Johnson qualify right now, says Andrew Sullivan in The Weekly Dish. Biden braved the foreign policy “Blob” and got out of Afghanistan. Yes, it was “horribly messy”, but ending wars always is. Equally, the sudden announcement last week of a new alliance in the Pacific between Britain, the US and Australia was a bold signal to China that America is not about to abandon the region. Militarily, it targets one of China’s weaknesses, its submarine programme, and is a “serious act of enhanced deterrence” against China’s aggression in the Pacific. For Johnson, AUKUS turns his “otherwise iffy” slogan of “Global Britain” into a reality.

Trans rights

Women are rightly furious about the way they’re being treated

Next election, the question to trip up every politician won’t be on social care or immigration, but: “What is a woman?” And how to answer this question is already tearing progressive parties apart, says Janice Turner in The Times. Marsha de Cordova, formerly Labour’s shadow women and equalities minister, was “vilified” for meeting feminists who stress sex-based rights over gender identity. After reportedly feeling “cut adrift” by Keir Starmer – who, as with Brexit, has vacillated hopelessly on the issue – she quit. Similar spats have riven the Greens, and “civil war has broken out” in the SNP, which proposes denying raped women the right to choose a female medical examiner. When Lib Dem leader Ed Davey was recently asked if “there should be spaces where biological males can’t go”, he replied: “No.”


The police are applying a double standard to Insulate Britain’s motorway-clogging “middle-class morons”, says Rod Liddle in The Sunday Times. Either arrest the “ecoloons” or watch as they attempt to negotiate the speeding traffic. I suspect that had Insulate Britain been wearing football shirts – or hoodies – things would have been dealt with altogether differently, says Camilla Tominey in the Telegraph. But because these were “the type of people who apply to go on Pointless”, the police issued a preposterously “tea and biscuits” response.


Washing clothes too often gobbles up energy and pollutes our environment with harmful microfibres, says The Sunday Times. T-shirts should be washed every four to five wears rather than the average of two. A night in the freezer will kill any smelly bacteria on jeans just as well as a washing machine does. “Insanitary laziness has become environmental activism.” And why stop at clothes? Vacuuming uses energy and cleaning products use chemicals.

Global update

A volcanic eruption on the island of La Palma has forced more than 5,000 people to be evacuated from the surrounding area. The Cumbre Vieja erupted on Sunday afternoon. Two hours later, rivers of lava – some hundreds of metres long and tens of metres wide – were rushing into nearby villages. At least 20 homes have been destroyed. “For journalists it is something spectacular,” a local resident told Spanish television station TVE. “For us it is a tragedy.”

Snapshot answer

It’s Ian McKellen, slumped outside Topshop in Windsor, practising his lines for Hamlet. Locals didn’t clock the actor immediately. “Windsor often has lots of homeless people sitting outside shops, and I thought this elderly man was just one of them,” one woman told the Mail on Sunday. “I went up to ask him if he wanted a coffee and a sandwich, but when I got closer I suddenly recognised him as Ian McKellen.”


quoted 20.9

“Only those who are capable of silliness can be called truly intelligent.”

Christopher Isherwood