Boris Johnson knows that no deal is better than a bad deal

THE European Union is making it easy for Boris Johnson – this biographer of Winston Churchill can never become a Neville Chamberlain tribute act.

The deal offered by our former EU masters is impossible for this Prime Minister to accept.

The British people voted to be a sovereign nation once more. And that vote is the biggest mandate any British PM has ever possessed.

But the last-minute attempts to inflict a punishment beating we will never forget — the EU shrieking for a so-called “level playing field”, a euphemism for keeping us shackled to their lumbering empire forever — would mean giving us Brexit in name only.

And Boris knows what the vast majority of the British believe.

No deal is better than a deal that sucks.

The 11th-hour demands to restrict our independence reveal an EU that is scared witless they will wake up to find they have a thriving, global-looking trading nation on their crumbling doorstep.

It should be simple enough for the EU and the UK to settle this thing in a spirit of friendly respect. It should be straightforward for Brussels and London to come up with a mutually beneficial trade deal.

The British are universally pro-European.

We love German cars and washing machines, French wines and cheese, Italian clothes and beaches, Spanish fruit, veg and sunshine. But the EU is not Europe.

And although the British joined the Common Market in 1973, the EU of today is about infinitely more than buying and selling.

The EU is a political project run by elderly fanatics. They are frightened now.

They fear Brexit will herald the beginning of the end for the great federal project and its grandiose dreams.

As the EU empire has expanded, Brussels has grown accustomed to casually crushing all signs of resistance. If we had been forced to have a second EU referendum, we would not have been the first nation instructed to vote again because we got it “wrong” the first time.

But here is what Brussels got wrong about the British.

They got it wrong when David Cameron was rattling his begging bowl.

They got it wrong when they were sadistically humiliating Theresa May. And they get it wrong today, by thinking that Boris Johnson could possibly sign up to a deal that neuters our ability to forge our own destiny.

You can’t bully a nation that has not been invaded for a thousand years.

Most of us would prefer a trade deal with the European Union.

But when you see the stubborn intransigence of the Eurocrats and when you see preening Emmanuel Macron playing two-bob Bonaparte because he is up for election in 2022, a trade deal between the UK and EU feels like an impossible dream.


Brussels — and their sneering Remain allies in this country — have attempted to bully us into repenting Brexit from day one.

They have done everything in their power to render Brexit meaningless.

That is why a deal is slipping from Boris Johnson’s grasp. Because the EU wants our country to fail.

And in our hearts, we know that they always will.

So prepare for mayhem. Prepare for No Deal. But also prepare, as Boris had it, “to prosper mightily”.

The largest vote for anything in our history can only have one ending.

A Brexit that is worthy of the name.


THE archetypal East Ender, Barbara Windsor embodied an old-school London pride.

Nothing ever wiped that cheeky grin from her fabulous face. Not being born in Shoreditch in 1937, just in time for the Blitz. Not the ups and downs of her turbulent love life.

Not the stern gaze of Hattie Jacques in the Carry On films, where Barbara practically invented the iconic sexy nurse who sent blood pressures soaring.

Not her brave fight against dementia.

I have been looking at Barbara Windsor’s cheeky grin all my life.

And whatever tears she shed behind closed doors, I honestly can’t recall ever seeing her without a smile. Now she has gone at the age of 83.

But in our dreams and memories, Barbara Windsor will carry on smiling for eternity.


“IT hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Margaret Keenan, 91 next week, after she became the first person in the world to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

I don’t think it has truly sunk in for any of us.

This global pandemic has now left 1.57million dead worldwide. And yet finally there is hope.

And nobody embodies that hope like Margaret Keenan in her Christmassy penguin T-shirt.


KATE and William embarked on a goodwill train tour of Britain and the tinpot tyrants of Scotland and Wales were apoplectic with rage.

“Some see it as a boost, some see it as a distraction,” sneered Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething. “I’m not particularly that bothered or interested.”

Meanwhile, grumpy old Nicola Sturgeon acted as though the feelgood visit by the smiling Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was about as welcome as the Highland Clearances of the 18th century.

Sturgeon bleated that the royal household had been warned about “restrictions” on travel between Scotland and England. So petty, so mean-spirited, so spiteful.

Kate and William were on the road in England, Scotland and Wales to say thank you to frontline workers.

The objections to their tour has bugger all to do with the possibility they might be breaking coronavirus rules and everything to do with the fact they are a wonderful advert for the British Crown and our United Kingdom.

But as PG Wodehouse so nearly said, it is never difficult to distinguish between the leader of a devolved Government and a ray of sunshine.

I ONCE did a book event with Camilla to promote adult literacy and everyone present was struck by her warmth, humanity and humour.

All those qualities were on show again when the Duchess of Cornwall opened new kennels at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home with the help of Beth, her rescue Jack Russell.


DON’T be put off The Queen’s Gambit because it is about chess.

The Netflix hit is more to do with loss, addiction and a yearning for home.

It is based on the 1983 novel by the late Walter Tevis, a brilliant, high-functioning alcoholic who also wrote The Hustler and The Man Who Fell To Earth.

All Tevis stories have brilliant protagonists who teeter on the edge of self-destruction.

Anya Taylor-Joy plays orphan, chess prodigy and drunk Beth Harmon.

She is as good as Paul Newman was in The Hustler and David Bowie was in The Man Who Fell To Earth.

In The Queen’s Gambit, the chess is just the start.


BOB DYLAN has flogged his back catalogue of 600 songs to Universal Music for £225million.

I last saw Dylan when he was a youngster of 76, playing a warm-up show at the London Palladium in 2017.

It was excruciating, like watching a bad Dylan impersonator at karaoke.

Bob’s cashed in his pension plan just in time.


I SUSPECT that English football fans will never warm to the sight of footballers “taking the knee”.

The gesture originated with NFL footballer Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the US national anthem as a protest against police brutality.

Here, its connection to the Black Lives Matter movement – whose stated aims include defunding the police and overthrowing capitalism – renders it unpalatable to many.

A BLM supporter, 19-year-old Astrophel Sang, has just been given a slap on the wrist (ordered to pay £340 in court costs and given a two-year conditional discharge) for attempting to set fire to the Union Flag at the Cenotaph at a BLM protest in June.

Well-intentioned footballers believe that taking the knee is a powerful gesture that takes a meaningful stance on racism.

But many non-racist football fans will find it inappropriate, pompous and divisive. When I was young, racism at English football was everywhere. It certainly still exists.

Kick It Out report there were 282 reports of racial abuse in the professional game last season. That’s far too many. But over the last 30 years our national game has changed out of all recognition.

English football – on the pitch, in the stands – has been gloriously and happily diverse for decades.

May I respectfully suggest that the majority of English football fans have been saying no to racism for decades.


“WE must not let daylight in upon the magic,” said Walter Bagehot, the Victorian journalist and thinker.

Bagehot meant there is a place for mystery and discretion, and keeping some things out of the public eye. Walter was talking about the monarchy. But he could have been talking about Katy Perry flashing her Spanx.

Too much daylight on the magic, Katy.

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