INDEPENDENT 2024-02-25 10:34:12

Scotland make Calcutta Cup history to leave England with questions

Magnificent Duhan van der Merwe became the first player to score a Calcutta Cup hat-trick for Scotland rugby as they soared to their fourth consecutive victory over England rugby in an intoxicating Six Nations showdown in Edinburgh.

The jet-heeled wing – who scored a stunning double at Twickenham just over 12 months ago – had the home crowd in raptures as he produced a Murrayfield masterclass to inspire his team to a 30-21 victory and move to within one of Scotland’s all-time record try-scorer Stuart Hogg.

England started brightly and opened up an early 10-0 lead, with George Furbank scoring his first international try, but Steve Borthwick’s men offered little thereafter as their unbeaten start to the championship shuddered to a halt.

Remarkably, they have now won only one of the last seven meetings with Scotland.

Led into battle by courageous captain Jamie George just over a week after he lost his mother to cancer, England made a strong start.

Having forced the Scots back from the outset, England got themselves ahead in the fifth minute when Northampton full-back Furbank – making his first start in almost two years – bounded over gleefully from close range after being played in by Elliot Daly at the end of a brilliant move.

Scotland suffered a further setback moments later when Zander Fagerson had to go off for an HIA, although the influential prop was able to return to the fray in the 18th minute.

By that point, England had opened up a 10-0 lead, with Ford having kicked a penalty three minutes earlier.

Scotland had been in a state of disarray for most of the opening quarter but they suddenly sparked into life and got themselves back into the game in the 20th minute.

Huw Jones made a dash for the line on the right and, after being dragged to the ground, the centre flipped the ball up into the path of Van der Merwe, who produced a superb piece of skill to find a gap and bolt over.

The early wind had been removed from England’s sails and Van der Merwe edged the Scots in front on the half-hour mark with a breathtaking score from his own half.

As the visitors mounted an attack, Ford’s heavy pass bounced off the face of Furbank and into the hands of Jones, who instantly offloaded to Van der Merwe 60 metres out.

The wing put on the after-burners and raced clear up the left, leaving a trail of white jerseys in his slipstream. Finn Russell added the extras before stretching the hosts’ advantage to 17-10 with a penalty shortly afterwards.

England were wobbling, but Ford kept his cool to reduce their interval deficit to four points with an opportunist drop goal from 35 yards out.

Scotland suffered what appeared to be a blow within seconds of the second half kicking off when Sione Tuipulotu limped off to be replaced by Cam Redpath.

However, the substitute centre was instrumental in the hosts going further ahead in the 45th minute when he burst through a gap on the halfway line.

A ruck ensued as Redpath was halted in his tracks, and Russell produced one of his trademark crossfield kicks out to the left for Van der Merwe, who burst over for his hat-trick and his 26th try for Scotland.

Ford reduced the deficit to 24-16 with a penalty in the 50th minute, but Russell put the home side firmly back in command with a couple of penalties either side of the hour mark.

England – having offered little since the opening quarter – gave themselves a glimmer of hope in the 67th minute when replacement wing Immanuel Feyi-Waboso bolted over on the left.

Fin Smith – with the chance to bring his side within a converted try of victory – hit the post with the conversion, leaving the Scots nine points ahead and able to see out the remainder of the match in relative comfort.

Not even a yellow card in the closing moments for a tip tackle could take the shine off Van der Merwe’s day.

Thousands eligible for new cost-of-living payment – check if you’re one of them

Hundreds of thousands of pensioners have been urged to check if they are eligible for a sizeable cost-of-living payment that ends next month.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said about 880,000 eligible UK households can secure an extra £299 if they claim pension credit by March 5.

Pension Credit averages more than £3,900 a year and aims to help low-income individuals who have reached state pension age with their day-to-day expenses.

It guarantees a minimum weekly income of £201.05 for single pensioners and £306.85 for couples, while additional help is available for those with disabilities or caring responsibilities.

About 1.4 million pensioners already receive pension credit in the UK.

The state pension is due to rise by 8.5% in April, when the new full state pension will be worth £221.20 weekly.

The DWP previously sent 2,000 people letters inviting them to apply for pension credit as part of a trial last July.

Minister for Pensions, Paul Maynard, said: “We are committed to ensuring every pensioner receives the financial support available to them.

“Anyone who is unsure whether they or a loved one is entitled to pension credit should quickly check using our online pension credit calculator – it’s never been easier.

“Not only could this secure an extra £3,900 every year and unlock a whole host of other support, if successfully claimed by 5 March a further £299 Cost of Living boost is up for grabs.”

You can claim for pension credit by visiting or by calling 0800 99 1234.

Putin could target UK again with novichok-style attack, warns Shapps

Vladimir Putin could target the UK with another novichok-style poisoning attempt, Britain’s defence secretary has warned.

Grant Shapps compared the threat Mr Putin poses to that of Nazi Germany’s Adolf Hitler.

Mr Shapps, along with a number of Western leaders, blamed the Kremlin for the recent death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died in an Arctic penal colony on 16 February.

Mr Shapps told The Sun: “Putin has Navalny’s blood on his hands. Navalny should never have been in prison. His crime was standing up to an autocratic and now dictatorial Putin, who has a long history of bumping off his opponents.

“He does it at home and abroad. And the world must not waver or bend to that kind of squalid leadership. We know what happens when you do – you end up with the mess of the last century.”

Navalny, 47, was given life-saving treatment in Germany in 2020 after he was poisoned with novichok – the same deadly nerve agent that had been used by Putin’s GRU spy agency to target the former Russian agent Sergei Skripal, 72, and his daughter Yulia, 39, in Salisbury in 2018.

Although the Skripals survived, Dawn Sturgess, 44, died after coming into contact with the military-grade nerve agent from a discarded perfume bottle.

Branding Putin a despotic leader who had lost any semblance of legitimacy, the defence secretary warned of another novichok-style killing on the streets of Britain.

He said: “Look what happened in Salisbury. We’ve seen what Putin is capable of.

“His behaviour makes him a pariah. He thinks the more he does it the stronger he gets. But in the eyes of the world it makes him more desperate and weaker.”

Asked if the UK could be hit by another novichok attack, he replied: “We are always tracking and trying to prevent those things. But do I think he has intent? You have seen that. So, yes.”

He added: “Because it’s so far outside of the parameters of civilisation, it’s sometimes hard for the Brits to believe. But it’s Putin’s modus operandi. His approach if he doesn’t like someone is, don’t vote them out, just bump them off.”

Mr Shapps described the Russian President as “right up there” among the most serious threats to world peace since Hitler.

Putin has denied any involvement in novichok attacks in the UK.

The defence secretary’s warning comes as Saturday marks the two-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

On 24 February 2022, Putin shocked the world by lauching a brutal all-out invasion of Ukraine, sending troops, tanks and warplanes in their masses across Russia’s border under the cover of darkness.

While the Kremlin is reported to have believed its “special military operation” would bring the capital Kyiv under Russia’s grip in just 10 days, the extraordinary show of defiance by Ukrainians willing to defy one of the world’s largest armies to fight for their country’s existence has instead seen the war now enter its third year.

Over the course of 24 months, battle lines have shifted dramatically as Volodymyr Zelensky’s troops pushed Russian invaders back hundreds of miles to enter into a grinding war of attrition centred in battle-hardened Donbas, where both armies are paying for small tactical and symbolic gains with thousands of lives.

Yet while the fighting hotspots have become more centralised, albeit along a 600-mile front line, the fate of Ukraine is increasingly at the mercy of geopolitical developments.

Seeking to justify his lengthy war, and his moves to transform Russia’s economy into a vast war machine, Putin is increasingly casting the conflict as an existential battle against the West.

Moaning about your job is a British tradition – let’s not judge the young for it

A few weeks ago, a friend told me he sometimes thought about quitting his job. I told him I also sometimes thought about quitting my job. So together we bonded over our mutual loathing of workplace drudgery, the day-to-day miseries of leaving the house, and our shared dreams of self-inflicted unemployment. Then we acknowledged that, actually, we both liked our jobs. So we changed the subject.

Feeling apathetic about work, and the back and forth between embracing it wholeheartedly and telling it that it’s terrible and that you want it to die, is a modern constant. Everyone seems to be at it – whether you work in a shop, an office, or freelance from home, little is more appealing than shutting down and staring at the ceiling rather than doing what you’re being paid to do. Or at least taking time out to fantasise about having a completely different life and vocation. And some workers are allegedly doing just that – downing tools, metaphorical or otherwise, and ghosting their employers entirely.

According to new claims by a leading employment lawyer, this is most rife among specific demographics. “What we have noticed is, in those sectors where perhaps wages and skills are a little lower, there is a definite increase in the number of employees who are just not showing up to work,” Nick Hurley of Charles Russell Speechlys told The Daily Telegraph this week. He identified retail and hospitality as the sectors most affected, younger people as the biggest culprits, and mental health conditions and long-term sickness post-Covid as some of the key factors leading employees to go awol.

Some of this has to be taken with a pinch of salt. Stories like these often feel a bit like fury bingo: toss some worrying employment figures together with images of right-on and/or lazy young adults self-diagnosing themselves as depressed or anxious, and you can practically hear readers clicking indignantly through their rage sweats. That said, if the picture painted by the stats is indeed accurate, can you really blame young workers for dropping off the map?

In January, the charity Mental Health UK warned that Britain is at risk of becoming a “burnt-out nation”. The kind of phrasing once synonymous with gloomy epigraphs at the start of dystopian fiction, it’s now just a thing we say to one another. “We live in unprecedented times,” chief executive Brian Dow explained. “Life outside work has become increasingly difficult due to the cost of living crisis and pressures on public services, while global challenges such as climate change and artificial intelligence fuel stress, anxiety and feelings of hopelessness.”

On a related note, a YouGov poll of 2,060 adults found that 35 per cent of participants had experienced high or extreme levels of pressure at work. Twenty per cent of those had taken time off due to poor mental health in the previous year. Is apathy perhaps merely a natural consequence of feeling increasingly overwhelmed and burnt out?

David Rice, an HR expert at People Managing People, tells me that apathy in the workplace isn’t necessarily something to worry about. “No one can be switched on all the time,” he says. “There will be times when your enthusiasm and energy will wane. That’s perfectly natural. It can be negative if you have performance-based incentives that you fail to achieve because you can’t find it in you to keep going. But at the same time, it can create a little distance between you and work. It can give you a bit of clarity around what actually matters, allow you to work on other things and let go of what you can’t control. Ultimately, those are good things.”

He’s also unsure about the idea of workplace apathy as a preserve of the young. “It’s not limited to a certain generation,” he says. “It’s just the most recent stick to beat Gens Y and Z with.” Anecdotally, I can’t remember being around anyone in my life, from peers to grandparents, who hasn’t once or twice confessed to wanting to quit their job in a blaze of glory – or admitted to dawdling around their workplace killing time until they can flee to the nearest exit. The act of working is occasionally – or often, for some – a rancid bore. It was true in 1978, is true in 2023, and will still be true in 2050, when we’re brushing dust off our robot overlords in exchange for hunks of bread.

If age does play an important role here, though, it’s in young people’s relationship with fairness. Keeping calm and carrying on – otherwise known as nihilistically trudging through abject misery out of a sense of moral duty – is an exhausting cornerstone of the British psyche. But it’s become less appealing in recent decades. Wages have stagnated, industries have collapsed, and the basic tenets of adult stability – from starting a family to owning a home to the looming threat of increasingly late, or non-existent, retirement –  are in the process of becoming completely unachievable for many young people, particularly those living in big cities. Without that warm hug of stability – from, say, a stable job market or a contract that isn’t zero-hours – where’s the incentive to stay put? Walk out. Get sloshed. Get a face tattoo. Choose life.

This is at the more drastic end of possible responses. But it speaks to a general feeling of the sands shifting when it comes to work and our relationship with it. Discussion of a boom in apathetic employees coincides with further gentle teasing of the four-day working week, which only days ago was described as “an inevitability” by a campaigner for the policy – pilots that have taken place so far have noted a range of benefits, from increased productivity to improved worker wellbeing. Flexible working is already rife in certain industries.

It seems a reset of sorts is coming – the question is just how long it’ll take. In the meantime, it’s sometimes healthiest to become numb to your work for periods of time rather than have a mortifying meltdown at your desk. “You need to figure out if the apathy that’s set in is related to burnout or just needing to invest time and energy into other things,” Rice says. “Be sure you’re getting lots of rest, and allow yourself the freedom to think about other pathways you can take in your life. It’s OK, and even necessary, to entertain these things from time to time.”

He adds that it works both ways, too – it can’t just be an employee’s responsibility to ask for help when they need it, or to source their own workplace joy. If you’re a manager, he says, “find projects that people are passionate about and give them the space to work on them. Try to eliminate excessive hurdles or bureaucracy from their workflows. Encourage them to use their vacation time as well. Sometimes they just need to get out of a routine, or see and do something exciting.”

In other words, feelings of apathy aren’t worth panicking about. Have a moan to a friend. Quit in your head. Scroll on your phone while that important email remains unanswered for a few extra hours. All of it might even be a boon in the long run.

Ian McShane on Deadwood, Twitter, and growing bored with American Gods

Ian McShane loves a monologue. It’s ironic, really, given the actor has mostly shunned the theatre for screen projects such as the cultish TV staple Lovejoy, HBO’s foul-mouthed western Deadwood, and the soulfully hyperviolent John Wick films. In the past, he’s even called for a 20-year moratorium on Hamlet. And yet here, today, he seems a bona fide thesp, delivering sinuous, almost Shakespearean soliloquies like the best of them.

“The one thing about getting older is that the memories well up more,” McShane, now 81, remarks. “Time catches up with you, life catches up with you, and the memories of what could have been, should have been or will be are stronger than they were, say, 10 years ago.”

The Blackburn-born actor seems in the mood for reminiscence as he talks to me over video from his London home. On his face rests a pair of thick-rimmed glasses; the first couple of shirt buttons are open, giving him the vaguely dishevelled vibe of a morning-after rocker. Ask him a question, and he’ll give you three answers. Maybe a wistful observation, too, about a film he once saw, or an actor with whom he once worked. (And, to be fair, he’s worked with them all – Richard Burton; Robert Mitchum; Keanu Reeves.) I put it down to a thespian knack for the oratory.

But there’s probably a more prosaic explanation for his meandering mindset: jetlag. McShane flew in from LA last night. He’s here to shoot a “caper movie” for Netflix, in which he plays a “crazy gangster” – not an unfamiliar mode for the actor, who’s schemed his way through the criminal underworld in everything from Sexy Beast to Miami Vice. He’s looking forward to the as-yet-unannounced project – with just a hint of caveat. “It’s a big time production,” he says, “so you’re involved with a lot of people. You make some compromises.”

More “satisfying”, he says, is the film he’s actually here to talk about: a poignant European indie called American Star. The film sees McShane play a long-in-the-tooth hitman, holidaying in the Canary Islands after a planned assassination fails to materialise. “The character is like an actor,” he says. “Like myself. You go in on a job, you do the job and leave and then you get on with it.”

American Star – named for a shipwrecked cruise ship that serves as the film’s central metaphor – is directed by Spanish filmmaker Gonzalo López-Gallego, who previously worked with McShane on the 2016 Western The Hollow Point. It was made in a tough period, shortly after the deaths of McShane’s mother and his mother-in-law. “I was on my own for five weeks, and my wife [the actor Gwen Humble] was dealing with stuff in the States,” he says. “You’re surrounded by people, but you’re alone playing a character. And some of that sadness and grief infiltrated into the film without knowing it.”

Filming on American Star was a “civilised” affair, and the small scale of the production made a huge difference. “There weren’t producers looking over your shoulder and telling you what to do because of their enormous investment,” he recalls. “When you make big movies like John Wick, it’s like you’re a small army that takes over town. Hopefully you leave it better than when you came in – sometimes you don’t.”

All of a sudden, he’s off explaining how he got his start in the industry, walking me through his “ordinary happy childhood” as the son of a Manchester United footballer. It was a particularly astute teacher who led him to acting; across the six decades of his professional life, McShane never did anything else.

“I’ve watched a lot of my friends drop off along the way the last few years,” he says, removing his glasses. “It’s emotional, when you suddenly read about people you grew up with in the business popping their clogs, as we say in Lancashire. But life goes on. Art goes on. Films keep being made. And I love movies. The whole process of talking to people, going on a film set. It can still be very exciting… or it can be a disaster.”

“Disaster” may be slightly too strong of a word to describe American Gods, another one of McShane’s best-known projects, but one wracked by reports of offscreen turmoil. The Prime Video series, adapted from a Neil Gaiman novel, saw McShane play Mr Wednesday, a deific con artist embroiled in a conflict between feuding gods. It received plenty of plaudits throughout its first season, but bouts of creative upheaval ultimately ended in the show’s cancellation in 2021. The experience, it seems, was a mixed one.

American Gods was a little – if I may say – overpraised at the time by social media,” McShane concedes. Between the first and second seasons, there was what he describes as a “legal standoff”, as original showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green “fell out with the show maker for budgetary reasons”. The show’s return was delayed. In the interim, McShane had been talked into signing on for another third season. “I was getting pretty bored with it,” he says. “The show never really recovered its momentum, which was a shame – because I think it could have gone on to something pretty good.”

Exacerbating matters, he says, was the fact that the show was “piled on” by the MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements. “There was a lot of controversy about remarks about race. I thought that it was too strongly angry. And it all got immersed in social media… I think that was part of the reason for the demise, and the sort of lack of interest in the show. People took sides. It diminished itself.”

The furore wasn’t the only time McShane’s been irked by the machinations of social media. He infamously antagonised fans of Game of Thrones – a series he fleetingly appeared in – by dismissing the series as being just “t**s and dragons”, and spoiling a major plot twist. Now, he brushes it off. “It was ridiculous. It was one remark!” he laughs. “The creators of the show loved it because it just gives it more publicity. I didn’t even think about it at the time because I’m not on social media. Everybody’s a critic now. Everybody thinks they know best because they can write anonymously on social media.”

American Gods wasn’t McShane’s first run-in with premature cancellation. For him and thousands of diehard fans, there’s no TV cancellation quite so stinging as that of Deadwood, which was spiked by HBO after just three seasons, despite rapturous reviews. It would later be revived for a gratifying 2019 film, but the original three-season run remains one of TV’s finest achievements, and McShane’s turn, as cutthroat pimp and saloon owner Al Swearingen, a performance on par with any.

It was, however, an experience marked by showrunner David Milch’s maverick working patterns, with dense, serpentine dialogue being written on the fly. McShane describes a moment during filming when Milch gave him and his and co-star Paula Malcolmson – playing Trixie, one of the saloon’s working girls – a particularly shocking piece of extemporaneous direction. “David said it in his inimitable way: ‘I think this scene is going well, but you should grab her by the c**t,’” he recalls. They had been filming together for just a day and a half.

“As I said to Dave at the time: it’s not the first instinct of an actor to say that! But Paula was like, ‘Absolutely. You should do that.’ I said, ‘Well, if you insist…’ It broke the ice.”

Of course, you couldn’t do that now. Or could you? “I’ve not worked with a… what do they call it? An intimacy coordinator? It’s a new invention of a job… I’m sure some people like it,” he says. “I mean, I’ve always tried to be as graceful as you can in intimate situations with actresses or actors. How long would [something like that scene in Deadwood] take nowadays, how much of a narrative would take place around that phrase?”

McShane springs off at a tangent again, reminiscing about Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie’s famous lovemaking scene in 1973’s Don’t Look Now – long (and probably falsely) rumoured to be unsimulated. (“It’s part of the mystique. You know, ‘Did they? Didn’t they?’”) He pauses, then adds: “In a roundabout way, I have no idea what an intimacy coordinator would do [with Deadwood]. In fact, I have no idea what they do now.”

Our time is up, and I’ve barely made a dent in the (admittedly over-ambitious) list of questions I’d prepared. For McShane, the cycle never stops: he’s got more promotion for American Star to get through, then the Netflix caper, then he’s heading over to Budapest for reshoots on the John Wick spin-off Ballerina.

Before he goes, I ask to quickly fact-check a piece of trivia that I’d read in a book recently: does he really have a photographic memory? “I don’t think so!” McShane responds. “I mean, I wish I had. I’ve got a pretty good memory. I always think, if you’re going to remember, remember everything… then you can sort out the good from the bad.”

He grins. “Wait. Who am I speaking to?”

‘American Star’ is out in UK Cinemas and digital download now

Uncovering the human cost of Russia’s war on Ukraine

Iryna’s body told her it was time to leave. “I started to have panic attacks,” she says. When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, she remained in Kyiv for the first year of the war to support her family financially. But the terror of Russian bombs and air raid sirens pushed her to breaking point. “My mental health was struggling and my parents advised me to leave.”

During her journey to the UK, she was overwhelmed with feelings of fear and guilt. Her elderly parents were reliant on a small pension to survive and Iryna also left behind her friends and a successful career as an accountant. “Before the war, my life in Ukraine was really good, I had so many opportunities,” she says. She arrived at the doorstep of a host family in Petersfield, Hampshire, and knocked on the front door. It opened and her new life in England began.

Iryna’s story isn’t an isolated one. Europe is now home to six million refugees from Ukraine, who have fled their homes since Russia first annexed Crimea in 2014. Many may never return home. A survey by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a charity that helps people’s lives that have been shattered by conflict, revealed that 87% of respondents had to leave their homes at least once since 2014, with 20% experiencing displacement multiple times. Over 36% of people also reported having to forgo basic necessities due to financial difficulties; and, worst of all, 74% said they’d been separated from a close family member.

It’s a heartbreak Svitlana knows all too well. She was an English tutor in her hometown of Chernihiv, where she lived a happy life with her husband and their two children. That was until war broke out. Svitlana evacuated to a small village in western Ukraine, taking her children and 70-year-old mother with her. Eight months later, they moved to the UK to give their children the best chance of living a peaceful life.

Svitlana now lives with a host family in Preston. “It was one of the hardest decisions of my life,” she recalls. “We had to choose either to stay in the city which was shelled and bombed and hope that it would come to an end or to pack our essentials and take a risk of moving.” It’s a decision that she is now at peace with. “When we arrived at Preston, we gave a sigh of relief. Finally, we got to a place with no air raid alerts. It was great to fall asleep without fear for the lives of your kids.”

For Iryna and Svitlana, the help of the IRC has been vital as both have embarked on a new and difficult chapter in their lives. Shortly after arriving in Hampshire, Iryna took part in the IRC’s orientation for newcomers and leadership training. The programmes are designed to help refugees from various different countries to navigate local services in the UK such as healthcare and education, and to support them to find employment and gain the skills that will allow them to prosper in the UK.

Iryna’s mental health is gradually healing and the training provided by the IRC has helped to rebuild her confidence. She volunteers as an interpreter for the local council and various other organisations. She is also part of a Ukrainian female choir, where she helps to translate and works part-time for the New Theatre Royal as a duty manager. Iryna’s long-term goal is to become an English teacher. She is soon to finish her CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) course at Portsmouth City College.

Svitlana also enrolled on the same orientation course with the IRC. It was the perfect way to begin her assimilation to life in the UK and share her experiences with other Ukrainians. “I can’t express my grati Svitlana’s tude in words,” she says. “The sessions were online, but it gave me the chance to socialise with other Ukrainians and learn about healthcare, education, emergency cases, rights and opportunities in the UK.” It’s also helping her with her career. “It helped me to understand how to write a CV and cover letter and navigate interviews. Thanks to this guidance, I’ve gained employment and self-employment as well.”

Two years on from the start of full-scale war in Ukraine and the future looks brighter for Iryna and Svitlana. “Looking back I’ve come so far from my New Year’s wish last year, which was just to survive,” says Iryna. “Now I can desire weekends by the sea and find a full-time job to become fully independent and help my family.” Svitlana is also feeling positive: “We’ve been surprised by the hospitality of our sponsor and his family,” she says. “I knew that British people are polite, tolerant and supportive, but I couldn’t imagine to what degree.”

Follow the link to donate to the International Rescue Committee and find out more about the crucial work they’re doing in Ukraine

Rishi Sunak must take Islamophobia as seriously as any other prejudice

Ministers were quick to condemn Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons speaker, for giving in, as they saw it, to threats of violence against MPs. Sir Lindsay appeared to have changed the rules of parliament under pressure from MPs who feared for their safety if they were not allowed to vote for Labour’s compromise motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

When pro-Palestinian demonstrators are guilty of intimidation or antisemitism, Rishi Sunak is rightly prompt and forthright in denunciation. Yet the prime minister seems to be slower to speak out when his own MPs express Islamophobic sentiments.

Lee Anderson, until recently Mr Sunak’s red wall mascot as a deputy chair of the Conservative Party, disgraced himself on Friday in an interview on GB News, a TV channel with its own questionable record. Mr Anderson attacked Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, saying that “Islamists … have got control of Khan and they’ve got control of London”.

Truss and Boris are now backing Trump – do they have any shame?

There is a case for refusing to take Liz Truss seriously. After all, she has started to use the phrase “the deep state” as if it means something, and as if that thing was responsible for her failure as prime minister.

She has started to contradict herself with the wilful abandon of someone who sees politics as entertainment. “I will fight, even if it’s not popular,” she told the CPAC conference in Washington, a jamboree of the American right that is in thrall to Donald Trump.

This is just weeks after launching a group in the UK called “Popular Conservatism”. Back in Washington, she attacked “Cinos” – Conservatives In Name Only – which she confusingly pronounced chinos, who apparently say: “I want to be popular, I don’t want to upset people, I don’t want to look like a mean person, I want my friends to like me.”