Peter Rhodes on yet more sharks, sneering at Brexit and the hair factor in elections

I had a feeling this basking-shark thread would run and run.

A reader tells me of his friend who in the late 1980s was sailing his yacht off the Welsh coast at Barmouth when the leviathan appeared. Although they knew it was harmless, “its sheer size was intimidating".

The skipper sailed alongside the basking shark and discovered it was the same length as the boat. Twenty-seven feet.

It must have been an amazing moment when experts at the National Galleries of Scotland examined a Van Gogh painting using X-rays and discovered a second unknown, and possibly priceless, Van Gogh on the reverse side.

I have this mental image of one of the experts suddenly asking: “Hello, what’s this ear?”

There is much sneering over those candidates for the Tory leadership who fight under the banner “Make Brexit Work,” the implication being that Brexit is such a catastrophe that it can never work.

So here are two questions – did membership of the EU ever work? Was the UK even a proper member?

During our time in the EU, we kept the pound, refused to adopt the euro and opted out of the Schengen open-borders area. We had more opt-outs from EU rules than any other EU country making the UK, as Wikipedia puts it, “the least integrated member state.” As the usual suspects are dusting off their yellow-starred EU flags to wave at the Proms, bear in mind that Britain was at best a semi-detached member of the EU. Brexit can work because it was halfway done when we started.

I won’t try to forecast who will emerge triumphant when this Tory leadership contest ends, but I was quite sad at how it began.

On day one, the cool, competent Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, ruled himself out of the running to become the next prime minister. Shame. He seems a good sort. On the other hand, he has one huge electoral drawback. Experience in the United States and UK suggests that when it comes to elections, the person with the most hair wins.

On that basis the shiny-topped Wallace never stood a chance, especially against the magnificently maned Mordaunt. Now, let us return to the hustings and see how the follicles play out.

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