A white paper on what passes for the UK government’s Brexit plans, confusingly entitled 'The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union', said almost nothing new and said it badly. The document was so incompetently cobbled together that it claimed at one point that British workers were entitled to 14 weeks’ holiday a year. Labour complained that it had been produced too late for meaningful scrutiny. The ugly face of the new global Britain championed by Theresa May emerged in court when six former financiers, including a senior manager at HBOS (a euphemism disguising the once-proud Bank of Scotland), received long prison sentences for various forms of corruption. The HBOS gangster, rejoicing in the name Lynden Scourfield, who was bribed with expensive watches, sex parties and 'boys’ jollies', went down for 11 years 3 months; his partner in crime, who did the bribing, got 15 years. A so-called 'human rights lawyer', Phil Shiner, was struck off the solicitors’ roll for making false claims that UK troops unlawfully killed, tortured and mistreated Iraqis. There seemed to be an end in sight to the long-running dispute at Southern Rail which has inflicted misery on millions of English commuters.
The SNP administration pushed its budget through the Scottish Parliament with the help of the Greens. The defence secretary Michael Fallon was alleged to have told a journalist that the UK government would block a second Scottish independence referendum, but when challenged about it later, Fallon backtracked. Nicola Sturgeon said that the Tories were running 'a wee bit feart'. Downing Street felt it necessary to issue a statement saying that the 2014 referendum had settled the matter, without clarifying for how long. The BBC Trust upheld a complaint from the Crown Office about a programme called 'Lies, Laws and the Bin Lorry Tragedy' in which one of its officials was alleged to have made insulting remarks about the driver of the lorry, Harry Clarke, in the presence of relatives of the victims. A 'celebrity chef', James Martin, explained that he left the BBC’s 'Saturday Kitchen' because a person 'stood up on stage and passed away' (a euphemism for dropped dead). Despite the lack of clarity about when and where the incident occurred, the BBC rated the chef’s statement the 14th most important event in the world yesterday.
There was speculation about the whereabouts of Melania Trump, the 'first lady' of the United States, who had not been seen in public for 12 days. The prime minister of Australia denied that Trump had put down the telephone on him during their difficult conversation; the call had ended courteously, he insisted. A Spanish nun apologised for any offence caused by her suggestion that Mary probably had sex with her husband Joseph. British supermarkets were running low on lettuce.