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That sinking feeling: Brexit and the Titanic

Dear reader, welcome to the first of what will hopefully be many weekly columns here at the Courtauldian. I am Morgan Haigh, a second-year undergraduate here at the Institute we all call home. My intention with this hebdomadal missive is hesitantly to enter the murky waters of ‘current affairs’ and pull out what I believe to be its pearls, no doubt with much meandering as well.

The danger with the news is that it tends to be full of contentious issues, and therefore I will at times express opinions on certain matters. I would like to make clear that these are my own, and not necessarily the views of the Courtauldian or the Courtauld Institute of Art. I would also like to underscore that they are just that, opinions, and by no means the be all and end all of the matter.

Illustration by Rosie Fitter

Speaking of contentious issues: I begin with Brexit. On Saturday last weekend, an estimated 700,000 people marched from Park Lane to Parliament Square to demand a ‘People’s Vote’ on the final Brexit deal, whenever (if ever) that appears. The second referendum is an option that has already been taken off the table by Prime Minister May, yet this did not stop one of the largest demonstrations in London since the Iraq War from bringing the West End to a standstill, with many placards playing on Banksy’s recent shredded artwork jape including a half-shredded Leave campaign poster.

Meanwhile in Harrogate, that centre of political power, Nigel Farage (politics’ answer to Toad of Toad Hall) had organised a rival pro-Brexit rally. Turnout at this event seems to have come to just under the 700,000 mark with only 1,200 in attendance although, as Farage reassured the press, this small cabal represented ‘millions’ watching live on social media. At the time there were only 190 watching on Twitter with an additional 12,000 on Facebook, but I’m sure the other million had just popped out for a pint, eh Nigel?

In this week’s news from across the Atlantic, mysterious packages were sent to both the Obama and Clinton households. They were revealed by the FBI to have contained explosives, two days after a similar device was discovered at the home of George Soros, the influential liberal, philanthropist and Democrat donor. The bombs were discovered on Wednesday by the technicians who vet all mail sent to former US officials. Another bomb of the same composition was delivered to CNN’s offices in New York, addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, a guest at the studio that day.

Just a glance at the list of intended recipients of these bombs (two former Democrat Presidents, the 2016 Democrat nominee for the White House, and other significant liberals and critics of Trump) leaves little doubt that whoever sent these devices is likely to have voted for the bewigged orange hot-air balloon who currently occupies the Oval Office. A rather drastic way of silencing critics, but then you know what they say – ‘if you can’t beat ’em…blow ’em up!’ Mr Trump assured the public that the FBI were investigating and that ‘the safety of the American people is my highest and absolute priority’. I wonder if that includes that ‘nasty woman’ Hilary Clinton?

Also in the news this week, it was announced that a full-scale replica of the ill-fated RMS Titanic (creatively christened Titanic II) will recreate its maiden voyage in 2022. The glamorous cruise will sail from Dubai to Southampton before crossing the North Atlantic to New York. The chairman of the Blue Star Company, who are building and operating the ship, was quick to assure prospective passengers that they will be ‘integrating modern safety procedures’ and, one would hope, plenty of lifeboats (not that we want to tempt fate!). Some, however, have taken offence due to the company’s intention to simulate an impact with an iceberg during the voyage – so if Brexit hasn’t already given you a sinking feeling then this might be the cruise for you!

Until next week,

Morgan Haigh

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