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6 September

In the headlines

Liz Truss will be formally appointed Britain’s third female PM at Balmoral today. The new leader will make a statement outside No 10 this afternoon, appoint her Cabinet this evening, and face her first Prime Minister’s questions tomorrow. In his final speech at Downing Street, says BBC News, Boris Johnson urged Conservatives to get behind his successor and likened himself to Cincinnatus, the Roman statesman who fought off an invasion before humbly returning to his farm. Some classics scholars have noted that “Cincinnatus came out of retirement for a second term as leader of Rome”. Foreign leaders have been sending their congratulations to the wrong “Liz Truss” on Twitter. Liz Trussel, who secured the @liztruss handle in 2009, replied to a message from the Swedish PM by saying: “Looking forward to a visit soon! Get the meatballs ready.”

Political culture

Liz Truss, Virginia Woolf and the truth about politics

People can’t resist “scorning” Liz Truss for her stupidity, says Henry Oliver in The Critic. She’s been blasted on Talk TV for “stupid remarks”; a recent piece in The Independent labelled her “breathtakingly stupid”. Commentators certainly have plenty of ammunition: her inability to find the exit at her own hustings, that weird speech about cheese, the unhelpful protestations from one supporter that she’s “not thick”. But Truss is just the latest victim of the “stupid politician” trope. Margaret Warnock once suggested Thatcher should be replaced with “someone intelligent like Virginia Woolf”. Reagan was dismissed by political hacks as a “hick cowboy film actor” who was “as dumb as a stump”.


Ganging up on America

Wherever the US looks, says Hal Brands in Bloomberg, “its geopolitical rivals are making common cause”. Earlier this year, Russia and China signed a strategic partnership “without limits” – one that involves “robust arms sales, military exercises and technological cooperation”. Iran has been helping the Russians in Ukraine, “reportedly giving Moscow drones and lessons in sanctions evasion”, in exchange for help with its satellite programme and preferential access to grain supplies. Tehran and Beijing have their own relationship “several decades in the making”, which they formalised into a 25-year cooperation programme in 2021.


Oversized eyewear got a “bad rep” in the noughties from its association with “uber-thin” celebrities and Juicy Couture tracksuits, says Mia Mercado in The Cut. But now, “with the Earth burning and democracy crumbling”, who has time to deal with under-eye bags? If Balenciaga and Gucci’s new designs are anything to go by, this is the season to “put an entire car windshield over our eyes” so we can cry on the Tube without anyone seeing. “Respectfully, go big or go home.”

Inside politics

I’ve offered advice to all my successors as foreign secretary, says William Hague in The Times – and the contrast between Boris Johnson and Liz Truss couldn’t have been more striking. My conversation with Johnson, “while never dull”, veered from topic to topic “without any apparent theme or order”. Truss, on the other hand, came armed with “a list of issues to discuss”. She welcomed ideas, and in subsequent weeks “acted on some of them”. Here’s hoping that “self-discipline, clarity and openness to ideas” is a taste of how she’ll be in No 10.

Gone viral

A man’s Reddit post detailing the moment he randomly came across his doppelgänger in Las Vegas has racked up thousands of replies from dumbfounded users. Sean Douglas McArdle, 46, was taking a dip in a hotel pool when he noticed a man who looked exactly like him, even down to the cap and horn-rimmed glasses. “I immediately thought: ‘Holy shit, that guy looks like the dude I see in the mirror,’” he says. “And my second thought was: ‘He looks cooler than me.’”

Gone viral

In a “depressingly dystopian” twist, says Digg, TV show This Morning is offering to pay off four months’ worth of energy bills as a luxury competition prize. “What next?” says one Twitter user. “Win a holiday to a remote island where you fight fellow islanders to the death? Free entry to the next Squid Game?”


A restaurant in Barcelona has installed two sleep pods for customers who need a siesta after a big lunch. For no extra cost, diners at The Lobster Roll can retire to “Nappucino Corner” for an hour’s shut-eye, says the I newspaper. If customers don’t set an alarm, staff “gently wake them up”. And frisky couples shouldn’t get any ideas: “only solo siestas are permitted”.


It’s a phone mast disguised as a tree on a Scottish farm, says The Daily Telegraph, but locals say it looks more like “God’s lavvy brush”. The 25-metre structure, near Dundas Home Farm in South Queensferry, has received more than 20 official complaints. Critics note that it rather stands out, because it is more than double the height of surrounding trees, and that the supposedly natural effect is spoiled by a flashing light at the top.


quoted 06-09-22

“If you resolve to give up smoking, drinking and loving, you don’t actually live longer; it just seems longer.”

Clement Freud, broadcaster and MP