Saturday 20th of April 2024

un-european UK to sail to the pacific...

















On a number of occasions, the New Eastern Outlook has reported about the much more active and multi-faceted role the United Kingdom has been playing on the global stage in recent years, including in political, economic and defense spheres. This change occurred during the protracted process of the UK leaving the European Union, which began after the Brexit referendum had taken place on July 23, 2016.

During this entire period that ended only at the end of 2020, the British government looked for nations to establish comprehensive partnerships with. The Department for International Trade, especially created in 2016 and currently headed by Elizabeth Truss, was put in charge of economy-related (i.e. pretty much key) aspects of the search.

Almost immediately, the focus of the aforementioned department and the entire UK government became the nations with historic ties to Great Britain, i.e. Japan, India and Australia – the leading countries in the Indo-Pacific, a region becoming the center of global processes.

On September 11 of last year, a Japan-UK bilateral free trade agreement was struck during a virtual meeting between Elizabeth Truss and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi. One and a half months later, the trade pact was formally signed (during a rare for current times face-to-face meeting) in Tokyo.

On both occasions, Elizabeth Truss talked about the UK seeking membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, CPTPP (an idea that has been discussed starting in 2018). The organization has 11 member nations from Asia as well as both North and South America, including Japan, which plays a leading role in the CPTPP [Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam]. The agreement, which aims to promote free trade among its signatories, entered into force on January 1, 2019.

The UK government made a formal request to join the CPTPP on February 1, 2021, which was reviewed on June 2 during an online meeting of the CPTPP Commission (the organization’s decision-making body) attended by high-ranking representatives of each of the 11 member-state. The Joint Ministerial Statement issued at the end of the session clearly showed that the decision to agree to UK’s bid to begin the accession process had been unanimous.

Views on the UK becoming a CPTPP member and possible consequences of such an outcome differ. The optimism expressed by a Japanese official regarding this development in an article published by the Royal Institute of International Affairs is understandable. The acceptance of the bid from such an influential nation by an organization Japan plays a leading role in unquestionably helps raise the (already fairly high) status of the latter on the international stage.

A number of British experts have reacted in a far more subdued (or even fraught with concern) manner to the latest news. An article published by The Conversation serves as an apt example. According to its authors, it is “highly unlikely that joining the CPTPP will make a significant difference to the UK’s post-Brexit economic prospects” as the positive impact of increased trade will probably be limited.

Still, the move could have some political rewards, as the policy paper entitled “Global Britain in a Competitive Age: the Integrated Review of Security, Defense, Development and Foreign Policy,” published in the middle of March, indicated.

However, the aforementioned experts also see some risks to the move from a political perspective. After all, the UK government may not find it desirable if China, which has previously expressed interest in joining the CPTPP, becomes a member of the organization in the future. In fact, once US President Donald Trump withdrew from the previous version of the deal, the TPP (the Trans-Pacific Partnership), a power vacuum was left in the region.

The United Kingdom may end up in a fairly strange and uncomfortable situation of being a member of an organization (formally labelled as a trade and economic one) comprising its main geopolitical opponent but not its key military and political ally. The current relationship between Great Britain and the PRC is fairly complex and hard to define.

The authors of The Conversation article also think that becoming a party to the CPTPP “will draw the UK into a power play between regional powers and may complicate other important alliances, including with India”. In fact, India opted out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that China plays a leading role in.

It is also worth noting that the ever changing plans recently pursued by Boris Johnson’s government abroad reflect growing domestic problems (with some arising on account of the latest Scottish Parliament election), which are getting worse owing to the negative consequences of Brexit. Focusing on foreign policy is a universal strategy used whenever it becomes unclear as to what to do on the domestic front. The current US President and leader of the Free World is following it in an exemplary fashion.

Nothing else could account for the obvious disparity between the UK’s current status on the international arena and the political, military and strategic ambitions abroad expressed by the nation’s government. It is also the only reasonable explanation for the propaganda campaign accompanying the seven-month maiden deployment on May 22 of the UK Carrier Strike Group, led by new flagship aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. It also includes six Royal Navy ships (2 destroyers, 2 anti-submarine frigates and 2 Auxiliaries), a Royal Navy submarine, a US Navy destroyer, a frigate from the Netherlands and 10 F-36B fast jets.

The Carrier Strike Group’s 26,000-nautical-mile global tour will cover the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian Ocean and South and East China Seas. It “will interact with over 40 nations” and take part in military drills involving India’s, Australia’s, Japan’s and South Korea’s armed forces.

The group will exercise its right to freedom of navigation by sailing through the South China Sea (SCS). The move could be viewed as a challenge to China’s claim to approximately 80-90% of SCS. Still, so far, there have not been any (and according to Chinese leadership, there will never be any) obstacles to navigation along the stretch of South China Sea that is part of one of the key global trading routes originating in the Persian Gulf region and Africa’s east coast.

Taking into account the tendency to provoke exhibited by the UK government (a trait it is genetically redisposed to in relation to foreign policy), the PRC leadership ought to prepare for the arrival of (uninvited) guests from afar in its coastal waters. In fact, two vessels of the Carrier Strike Group, Royal Navy’s HMS Defender and the Royal Netherlands Navy’s frigate HNLMS Evertsen, have already conducted some exercises in the Black Sea, seemingly in preparation for what is to come in the South and East China Seas.

The UK government’s motives behind the schemes implemented in the political landscape populated by limitrophe states separating the Russian Federation from “Old Europe” are quite transparent. Since the ties previously established between the latter and Russia have been severed, for the most part, the UK’s usual strategy (with its historical roots) entails countering the development of highly beneficial for “Old Europe” relations with the Russian Federation. And in order to achieve this aim, fairly fresh cannon fodder is required.

However, it remains unclear how China has managed to (truly, as mentioned before) displease the current UK leadership. After all, only 6 years ago, a visit by China’s leader Xi Jinping to the United Kingdom (David Cameron served as Prime Minister at the time) ended in success and a promise to benefit from the ‘golden era’ in ties between the two nations. It does not make sense to view the current situations in Hong Kong and Xinjiang as highly problematic for the relationship.

Still, it is probably not worthwhile for the leadership of China and Russia to worry about resolving such misunderstandings nowadays. But it is crucial to recognize the need to coordinate actions in all spheres, including the economic, foreign policy and defense ones, within the framework of the bilateral relationship between China and Russia.



Vladimir Terekhov, expert on the issues of the Asia-Pacific region, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

liz truss: iron lady 2.0



Back in 2012


Liz Truss: Iron Lady 2.0

She’s young enough to have studied Margaret Thatcher at GCSE – but she’s emerging as the ideological torchbearer for a new generation of Tories.


It is not surprising that with so much drive, Truss, who will soon turn 38, is tipped for great things in the Tory party. Her name often crops up in conversations about who, from the generation of MPs fresh to parliament in 2010, will get a foothold on the ministerial ladder in the next reshuffle. South-west Norfolk has recognised her anointed status. “You’re clearly being groomed for big things,” says one of the childminders at the end of the meeting. “Are you going to be prime minister one day?” Truss laughs.

She first got involved in politics while still at comprehensive school in Leeds. Her parents, both public-sector workers, were on the left. As a child she was taken on CND marches to shout slogans outside naval bases; she helped her mother make mock-nuclear missiles out of rolled-up paper. As part of a media studies GCSE, she did a project on the fall of Margaret Thatcher entitled “The End of an Era”. It was the beginning of a journey to Conservatism.

“I was fed up with Labour and a lot of my teachers were really bolshie about Margaret Thatcher,” says Truss over lunch at a mid-range brasserie (pine floors and locally sourced produce). Truss reacted against a “right-on” culture in her school that seemed to celebrate mediocrity and tolerate underperformance from pupils and staff alike. “What I observed was that being a bad teacher didn’t mean you got kicked out of the school and a lot of children were let down by the low expectations teachers had of them,” she says.




Truss joined the Liberal Democrats. The Conservatives seemed like “another world”, dominated by a much older and culturally alien generation. She became president of the Lib Dems at Oxford University, where she studied PPE (philosophy, politics and economics – the de rigueur qualification for wannabe Westminster apparatchiks). Only in her final year did she become a Tory.

The conversion was prompted, she says, by the discovery that the principles of individualism and self-reliance that had once made her a Liberal were better served by Conservative economics. It was not a fashionable choice in the late Nineties. “There was a bit of an ‘eurgh’ factor around the Tories. You could see the whole thing was going wrong.”

The problem, Truss says, was the Tories’ failure to adjust to cultural changes that accompanied the economic liberalisation of the Eighties. “Thatcher had unleashed a new era of social liberalism and the government just didn’t catch up with that. They were out of step with the way people lived.”




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spreading disease...

Britain's spanking new aircraft carrier and its accompanying battle group have run into trouble early into their Asia-Pacific voyage – at least 100 members of the crew have been infected with Covid-19.

The HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, accompanied by at least six warships and a submarine, is sailing through the Indian Ocean on its way to the Pacific. The carrier strike group is only a quarter way through its 28-week deployment but now the infected crew is reportedly having to self-isolate.

British naval officials are asserting that the sickness on board will not impair "operational effectiveness". But you do wonder how social distancing in confined conditions will make normal duties feasible. It wouldn't be the first time that a British warship and indeed an American one were forced to cancel voyages due to outbreaks of Covid-19 among crews.

Given that the British flotilla is incubating Covid-19 and is due to dock in up to 40 countries during its 42,000-kilometer itinerary that also raises questions about the sanity of the mission. Spreading disease around the world? That gives a new meaning to carrier strike group!

A naval officer looks up at the white ensign flying at the stern of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, which has been beset with technical problems
A naval officer looks up at the white ensign flying at the stern of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, which has been beset with technical problems
HMS Queen Elizabeth cost at least $4 billion to build and is described as the "flagship" of the British navy. At 280-meter length, it’s believed to be one of the largest vessels of its type anywhere in the world, entering into service last year. As well as accompanying warships, it is also capable of launching dozens of F-35 fighter jets and helicopters.

A naive but unintentionally helpful headline was asked by the BBC. "Why is a UK aircraft carrier on a world tour?"

Well, exactly. What is the point of this display of military power? The cost of it alone is embarrassing considering the financially over-stretched public health services in Britain trying to cope with the Covid-19 crisis. A crisis that threatens to rebound from new deadly variants of the virus.

The naval mission is a vanity exercise to advertise "Global Britain" – the jingoistic British notion egged on by the likes of Boris Johnson that Britain has rediscovered past glories as an empire now that it has quit the European Union.

Ordering its expensive tub-boats to sail around the world is Britain's way of trying to project itself as a global power to be taken notice of.

Hence, a few weeks after setting sail in May, the British battle group dispatched a destroyer, HMS Defender, to peel off from the convoy in the Mediterranean and enter the Black Sea where it provoked Russia's anger by breaching territorial waters off the Crimean Peninsula.

Next up, the strike group is reportedly going to launch fighter jets to bomb targets in Iraq allegedly belonging to Islamic State militants.

Then after flinging bombs into Iraq, the British navy heads to the big arena of the South China Sea for what it calls a "freedom of navigation operation". That is just a euphemism for gratuitously provoking China from sending a military expedition close to territories claimed by Beijing. That itinerary could transpire in a dangerous confrontation with China.


Along the way, the British "Rule Britannia" fleet will call in former British colonies such as Oman, India and Singapore. These stopovers are no doubt aimed at reviving memories of Britain's supposed past glories as a colonial power when in reality the "glory" stemmed from subjugating a large portion of the Earth to wars and rapacious exploitation.

Today, Britain is a sick place, literally and metaphorically. The atrocious racist and jingoistic behaviour of its football fans as seen during the recent Euro Championship is not a minority blemish. The whole British establishment is infected with the disease of imperialist arrogance.

Despite being ravaged by the Covid pandemic, the British rulers have other perverse priorities. They want to flex military muscle to make a decrepit nation look virile and powerful. In doing that they are willing to neglect urgent social needs among their population while sailing around the world spoiling for confrontation with other nations in a reckless display of aggression. And, to boot, ferrying infections towards distant shores.

Now, that's what the HMS Queen Elizabeth really stands for: a flagship of British disease



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not becoming wiser...


Brigadier Mark Totten of the British Royal Marines recently gave an interview to the Times newspaper of London. In the interview he revealed that the British were going to embark on covert tasks focusing on Russia and China.

The British SAS and SBS forces were planning on new missions directed against both Russia and China. Precisely what these tasks for the special forces would be was not revealed by the Brigadier, but they will apparently include training forces in the nations of the South China Sea region to counter what the Times described as “Chinese hostility” in the region.

Part of this British focus was evident in the recent incident in the territorial waters off Crimea where the British ship HMS Defender recently sailed into the territorial waters of Russia and was rebuffed by a strong Russian force. The British who have never recognised the return of Crimea to Russia, persist in the fantasy that it remains part of Ukraine. From their point of view, they were therefore justified in sailing within Crimean waters is it remained part of Ukrainian waters, with whom the British have an ongoing relationship.

The British case was not helped by the blatant lies about what they did and why. It was revealed by two journalists who happened to be on board that the ship’s weapons were fully armed. The claim that it was innocent passage in Ukrainian waters was clearly a lie. It was also revealed later that the plan to sail the ship in Crimean waters was the subject of disagreement within the British military forces, with the military preferring not to engage the Russians in this way, but being overruled by the Prime Minister. He was clearly looking for a way to confront the Russians, which is consistent with his long-standing hostility to Russia.

The incident resulted in a retreat by the British ship from Crimean waters, which clearly represented a stand down by the British. They were clearly wishing to avoid a confrontation with the Russians, notwithstanding Johnson’s provocative views.

The British are clearly minded to cause problems with both the Russians and the Chinese. The new British aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth is now sailing to the South China Sea with the clear intention of confronting Chinese forces in that region. The British intention is clearly provocative. On one level it may be interpreted as a desperate attempt by a second-rate military power to attempt to prove to the world that it is still a force to be reckoned with.

On another level this is better seen as a pointless and provocative exercise that is unlikely to cause the Chinese any sleepless nights. If the British did get involved in a shooting match with the Chinese, their very expensive ship would be very much in danger of becoming a hugely expensive shipwreck, being sunk by the Chinese who have no reason to fear British posturing of this nature.

In taking on the Russians in the Black Sea and planning to confront the Chinese in the South China Sea the British are clearly seeking to make a point; that they remain a force to be reckoned with in a military sense. It is a dangerously naïve belief that could well end in a major tragedy for the British.

In adopting this stance, the British are clearly aiming to impress their American masters. The United States president Joe Biden is currently making placatory noises towards the Russians in order to concentrate United States hostility on China whom they perceive as the real enemy to be confronted.

According to some reports the Americans envisage separating the Russians and the Chinese from the strong partnership, which recently celebrated 20 years of cooperation and friendship. In this endeavour the Americans are clearly delusional. Although the Russians welcome the lessening of covert American hostility, they are under no illusions that this represents a real change in attitude. It is clearly a tactic designed to try and separate the Chinese and the Russians from their progressively growing relationship.

One has only to look at recent developments involving both China and Russia to see that in this endeavour the Americans are more delusional than usual.

This is no better demonstrated than the reaction of both countries to recent events in Afghanistan. Despite officially regarding the Taliban as a terrorist group, the Russians have nonetheless played host to a Taliban party that clearly wants a better relationship with Russia. They have a similar view towards China, recently describing that country as a “true friend”.

Both Russia and China are viewing recent developments in Afghanistan, where the Taliban are making rapid advances, with careful interest. Afghanistan is an observer state with China’s Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Chinese clearly envisage a better relationship with the ending of the war in Afghanistan.

The Chinese are under no illusions, and neither are the Russians, that the war has actually ended. It is the American intention to leave thousands of mercenary forces in Afghanistan after they officially “withdraw”. An important role of those missionaries will be to protect the cocaine crop that produces 80% plus of the world’s heroin supply. Although the western media are markedly reluctant to acknowledge the fact, that crop is under the control of the CIA and its sale constitutes a significant supplement to their unofficial budget. It comes with a complete lack of surprise that the CIA is opposed to the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The Taliban showed during their previous spell in power in the 1990s that they had zero tolerance for the heroin crop and there is no reason to believe that their view has changed.

Both Russia and China have shown a willingness to assist the Taliban in eliminating the heroin crop. The product has been a problem for both countries and they have a clear incentive to assist the Taliban in its removal.

The United States has expressed its intention to retain an interest in Afghanistan, although that will be a long-distance exercise as all of Afghanistan’s neighbours have made it clear that they have no intention of providing their territory for any continued United States presence in the region.

It Is clear that the United States is having to confront a different geopolitical reality in the region. It will be a measure of the maturity of both the British and American governments how well they cope with this new reality. It would be unwise to be too optimistic that the Anglo-American leopard has really changed its spots.


James O’Neill, an Australian-based former Barrister at Law, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.


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These donkeys are not becoming wiser and behave like stupid mules... 


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the downfall of UK…..

Russian politicians have relished the downfall of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, casting the outgoing British leader as a man who orchestrated his own downfall and finally got his just reward for supporting Ukraine against Russia's invasion.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Mr Johnson "really doesn't like us, [and] we don't like him either".

He said he hoped "more professional people who can make decisions through dialogue" would replace him.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Mr Johnson's fall was a symptom of the decline of the West, which she said was riven by political, ideological and economic crises.

"The moral of the story is do not seek to destroy Russia … Russia cannot be destroyed. You can break your teeth on it — and then choke on them," she said.

She said the embattled leader had no one else to blame but himself.






HOPEFULLY, Liz Truss won't get the job.... In regard to Russia, she is a million times more russophobic than BoJo.... and about ten times dumber on international matters.



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the dumb one is about to get the gig…..



BY John Harris


It’s a monstrous thought, but politicians who disparage net zero as a ‘new religion’ and wind power as ‘medieval’ are tipped for cabinet posts...

hat a strange, heady, anxious summer that was. For all the talk by many journalists and politicians about the cost of living crisis as something that will decisively arrive in the autumn, it is already here. At the same time, the landscape of this small corner of northern Europe is parched and straw-coloured, while those terrifying images of flooding in Pakistan have illustrated the climate emergency’s even more nightmarish flipside. The pandemic, it turns out, was merely one more crisis on the way to something completely convulsive: payback for our fragile dependence on fossil fuels, and a way of living that is no longer sustainable. With perfect timing, next weekend will see the return to London’s streets of Extinction Rebellion, whose protests will trigger the usual sneers from climate deniers while hammering home 2022’s awful sense of urgency.

Meanwhile, as if the immediate future is being decided by a TV scriptwriter who specialises in the bleakest comedy, Liz Truss is seemingly about to move into Downing Street, after two months of surreal and largely pointless debate in which the climate crisis has barely figured. She and Rishi Sunak may have paid lip service to the government’s nominal target of achieving net zero by 2050 – but, whatever their other differences, they have largely spoken with one voice on climate policy: the cursory, slightly bored tone of people who think of it as an optional extra.

Both have said they support the lifting of England’s current moratorium on fracking. Sunak began the contest opposing more onshore wind turbines, but then changed his mind; Truss has repeatedly said she wants fields to be cleared of solar panels, a position Sunak also supports. Last week, in the wake of a Spectator interview in which Sunak agreed with the contention that “we need more fossil fuels in the short to medium term”, there came apparent confirmation that Truss and her team are discussing plans to issue as many as 130 new licences for drilling in the North Sea. Any results might not be seen for 20 or 30 years: the fact that oil and gas are globally traded commodities would mean that the effects of additional production on prices would be negligible to nonexistent. But, like her fracking stance, the move is performative: a half-cocked answer to some of the questions triggered by the energy crisis, and a signal that even Boris Johnson’s limp flirtation with green politics was too much for the Tory party to bear.

As Truss prepares to take over, Jacob Rees-Mogg seems to be on the up, and there is very serious talk of him being put in charge of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – a move that would hand the climate portfolio to someone who has long met any suggestion of convincing action with weary sneers. “Coal is plentiful and provides the least expensive electricity per megawatt … unfortunately, coal-fired power stations are being shut down because of European Union regulations,” he said in 2013. He went on: “Common sense dictates that if the Meteorological Office cannot forecast the next season’s weather with any success it is ambitious to predict what will happen decades ahead.” His media archive contains reams of this stuff, full of a blithe insistence that whatever is happening to the climate is beyond human understanding or control, and we may as well do what we want. In April this year, he said that “every last drop” of hydrocarbons ought to be extracted from the North Sea.

Iain Duncan Smith is tipped to return to government, bringing with him the view that net zero is a “new religion”. The civil servant turned zealous Brexiteer David Frost reportedly wants to stand to be an MP and thereby clear the way to a major role into Truss’s cabinet: with his usual subtlety and restraint, he recently insisted that “the current evidence does not support the assertion that we are in a climate ‘emergency’”, and said that wind power is “medieval”. As a grim punchline, there have been rumours of a role at the Treasury for the veteran Tory John Redwood , a longstanding friend of hydrocarbons (“More gas is the answer to a gas crisis,” he says), who characterises international climate moves as the work of a “world establishment”. Some of the noise about Truss’s probable appointments may be conjecture, but as mood music to her quest to “go for growth” and fixate on deregulation, it is deafening. Throw in the almost-certain promotion of such net-zero sceptics as Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch, and you have a pretty vivid sense of her government’s most likely approach to climate breakdown.

Here, clearly, is yet another victory for the hard-right Toryism that now seems to run the party, and a reminder of the financial links that connect Conservative politics with big hydrocarbon companies and devout sceptics and deniers. It is not hard to detect the influence of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the climate-sceptic lobby group founded in 2009 by Margaret Thatcher’s one-time chancellor Nigel Lawson, which now numbers the fantastically influential Tory backbencher Steve Baker among its trustees (three years ago, work by the Open Democracy journalist Peter Geogheganrevealed that the foundation’s chair was the co-owner of a company that had donated £25,000 to Johnson’s and Jeremy Hunt’s leadership campaigns in 2019 and £100,000 to Vote Leave; this year, another firm he own gave £10,000 to Braverman’s short-lived leadership campaign). Baker’s European Research Group of Conservative MPs now blurs into the Net Zero Research Group: another Tory MP to watch is the latter’s chair, Craig Mackinlay, a former deputy leader of Ukip who has skilfully channelled the fierce climate denial of his former party into his new one. Mackinlay thinks the pursuit of net zero is an “elite delusion”, which suggests a familiar sleight of hand: using a confected idea of the put-upon masses to protect the interest of fossil-fuel giants.

A lot of what is happening reflects the nostalgia that surfaced in our exit from the EU – this time centred on half-remembered visions of a coal bunker in the back garden and Sunday-afternoon motoring on a tank full of five-star petrol. There is also a sense of the same twitchy paranoia that courses around the Daily Mail, GB News and the more worked-up corners of the internet: a conviction, in essence, that anything even remotely associated with the political left must be a conspiracy to limit people’s freedom, and a power grab by the state, and the climate crisis is no exception. As evidenced by the Tories’ leadership contest, what all this leads to is utterly absurd: people claiming that “woke” social attitudes are a huge threat to civilisation and that illegal immigration is even more dangerous, and then responding to 40C heat, failed harvests and endless floods by effectively telling us that no one need worry.

There is something truly monstrous about that, but it highlights a way of thinking that we are going to be living with for the next two years at least. By way of symbolising it, at last week’s final leadership hustings at Wembley Arena, one member of the audience asked Truss if she might be prepared to abolish motorway speed limits. “We need to be prepared to look at that,” she replied. In that mind-boggling moment, there was a sharp sense of where we are about to be taken: deep into the realms of doing what you want whatever the consequences, thanks to petrolhead politics: the credo of people apparently happy to let the world burn.

  • John Harris is a Guardian columnist












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