In the first test of far-right populism in Europe since Trump's victory, the mainstream party of prime minister Mark Rutte did best in the Dutch general election, according to exit polls. Geert Wilders's anti-immigration party was predicted to win 19 seats in the 150-seat parliament, fewer than anticipated, after an exceptionally high poll (81%) gave pro-EU and liberal parties a decisive advantage. Rutte called the likely result a celebration of democracy and a rejection of the 'wrong kind of populism'. A federal judge in Hawaii threw out Trump's new travel ban only hours before it was due to be introduced, citing 'questionable evidence' in the administration's argument. Trump responded by accusing the court of 'unprecedented judicial over-reach' and vowed to take the case to the supreme court. In an interview on LBC, a London radio station, presenter Nigel Farage suggested to Marine Le Pen that she was the best person to lead France and Marine
Le Pen agreed.
The chancellor, Philip Hammond, reversed his decision to impose a relatively minor increase in Class 4 national insurance contributions, bowing to media and backbench pressure to protect 'white van man' (otherwise known as the self-employed). When Alex Salmond asked Hammond who made him realise that he had broken a manifesto commitment by introducing the change, he replied with disarming frankness: 'I think it was Laura Kuenssberg on the BBC' (shortly after the Budget speech) – an admission that his own civil servants at the Treasury had somehow failed to spot the problem. In one of their suspicious bouts of consensus, the press agreed that Hammond had been 'humiliated', the Financial Times commenting that the episode cast doubt on the government's competence to handle the Brexit negotiations. The queen will today be asked to sign the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, but it is still unclear when article 50 will be activated (a Scottish Review reader having objected to the constant use of the word 'triggered'). The Sun cleared its front page for further 'news' of the queen's grandson, William, 'dirty dancing with two beauties' during his skiing holiday in Switzerland. He wasn't dirty dancing. Alexander Blackman, a royal marine who was jailed for killing an injured Taliban fighter in Afghanistan, had his murder conviction reduced to manslaughter, after the court of appeal heard that he had been mentally ill at the time. The funding body UK Sport 'refuted' – by which it meant merely rejected – allegations that it had gone easy on its disgraced client, British Cycling, 'because that's where the medals are'.
After the hysteria earlier in the week about a second Scottish independence referendum, all concerned seemed to be having a good lie down – unfortunately not for long. The chief inspector of prisons for Scotland, in a report on the privately run Kilmarnock prison, told the story of a man released from that establishment who was reduced to living in a tent for eight weeks before shoplifting in the hope of being returned to jail. A 'killer blizzard' known as Storm Stella was said to be heading this way from the eastern seaboard. We can blame this one on Trump.