Peter Rhodes on three new Armageddons, backtracking Boris and bottom-pinching in the Lords
Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.
DOOMED, doomed, we're all doomed. Assorted experts warn that a) drinking fruit juice may increase the risk of cancer, b) the human version of mad-cow disease BSE may infect thousands of us and c) seagulls in Australia are carrying antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Every week seems to bring more Doomsday warnings. At this rate, by the time the great Climate Catastrophe strikes, will anybody be left to perish in it?
MEANWHILE, scientists based in Zurich calculate that by the year 2050, London will have a climate like modern-day Barcelona. And that's supposed to scare us?
AS for BSE, the man who issued the gravest warnings, Professor Richard Lacey, died earlier this year without seeing his personal Armageddon come true. I interviewed him in 1992 shortly after his forecast that "we could virtually lose a generation of people." Lacey was good, sparky company as he led me around the meat counter of a big supermarket in Leeds, exclaiming loudly: "How on earth can people bring themselves to eat this muck?'' He believed the human BSE epidemic would strike at about the turn of the century: "Our current estimate is something between 25,000 and two-and-a-half million from about 1996.'' Yet for all his authority, scholarship and confidence, Richard Lacey's warning has not come true. (At this stage, we optimists like to avoid the word "yet").
AN inquiry into staff being groped and abused by peers in the House of Lords concludes that some incidents are the result of dementia. Terrific. And when they're not pinching bottoms, they're tinkering with our laws. The Lords has long been a national embarrassment. We should sack all 850 of them and start again.
ONLY eight days to go before the result of the Tories' election is announced and Boris Johnson becomes party leader and prime minister. Which could make the first week in August very interesting.
MY personal theory is that having promised faithfully to get Britain out of the EU by October 31, Johnson will maintain this fiction for a couple of weeks, until about August 6. He will then start the process of back-tracking, telling the nation that, er, cripes, those blighters in Brussels are playing jolly hard ball and Brexit may take a little longer. And then it will gradually dawn on us that Brexit was never a serious project, merely a gambit to help a ferociously ambitious and well-connected politician to become prime minister.
ON the other hand, politics is a dark art. It may be I misjudge him and that Boris has already been negotiating secretly with EU officials and has agreed a soft but respectable Brexit which will win support not only from virtually all Tory MPs but from Labour members, too. At a stroke, Brexit will be delivered and Boris Johnson will emerge as the most gifted negotiator ever to occupy Downing Street, and the man who will reunite this fractious country and lead us into the sunlit uplands of the happy, prosperous Boris Years. Ask me again on August 6.