All posts by Barry White

When you want to know the future don’t ask Liam Fox (amongst others)

I don’t know how many extensions there have been during the government’s protracted negotiations with the EU to achieve (or not) a trade deal. The talks started at the beginning of March 2020 and yesterday after it appeared that a ‘no deal’ was likely, a joint statement by the parties announced that there would be a further extension, “to go the extra mile” but with no cut-off date this time (although there is the real date of 31 December 2020 –but they could ‘stop the clock’ I suppose). Wind back to September when Prime Minister Boris Johnson proposed a deadline of 15 October for a free-trade deal with the European Union. If missed, both sides should, he said, “accept that and move on”.

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The loss of an outstanding journalist

One of the UK’s finest and most controversial journalists, Robert Fisk died suddenly in a Dublin hospital on Sunday 30 October. Although born in Kent in July 1946, he later became an Irish citizen.

His career with the nationals began at the Sunday Express, (after learning his trade at the Newcasle Chronicle see: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-top-hack-blasts-local-rags-9196235.html ) but he first distinguished himself in 1970s Belfast, having become the Northern Ireland correspondent for The Times in 1972. “I was astonished to see that I was reporting a war,” he said of his time reporting in Belfast. “I always refer to Northern Ireland as a war and not the Troubles.”

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Does the TV licence have a future – lessons from Sweden?

While the government is still deciding on whether to decriminalise non-payment of the television licence fee, following a public consultation earlier this year, the very future of the TV licence fee hangs in the balance. Although safe until the next BBC Charter Review in 2027, when the way the BBC is governed and funded is decided, government ministers are reported as saying they are “open minded” about how to fund the BBC from then onwards.

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