The clouds went black across The UK last week as the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo swept over our shores and left a trail of chaos that felt decidedly British. Much was made about a waterfall flowing upwards and the single fatality that resulted from the storm (the humdrum hit-and-run in Croydon was largely ignored).
Also sidelined in the news was the bizarre revelation that wind energy providers were collectively given more than £5 million to turn their turbines off during the height of the gales. Apparently they were producing more energy than the National Grid could handle.
It’s all going to be okay, they assure us; a £97 million supercomputer (presumably powered by bistromaths) is being installed by the Met Office, which will run 13 times faster than its current forecasting devices. Let’s hope it can help the Grid get a better idea of when massive hurricanes are likely to drive up wind energy in the UK, so we don’t have to pay to waste it.
The Swedish had a storm of their own on their hands, after a suspected Russian submarine was ‘found’ (and lost) just 16 miles from its capital. While the Swedes closed their airspace and shut down the Stockholm archipelago trying to locate the rogue signal, the Russians tried to blame the Dutch, despite the intercepted message being in Russian.
Cameron caused a blizzard of his own, expressing outrage and petulantly refusing to pay a £1.65bn top-up to the UK’s contribution to the EU. Despite this being peanuts compared to the £4.65bn rebate the UK receives (which, incidentally, is due to rise another €500 million next year), the eurosceptics are using the rise as yet another reason to snort with disgust and demand an exit from the common market. About the only sensible comment came from Ken Clarke, when he noted:
“May I first of all sympathise with the prime minister by being taken by surprise on a subject which everybody in the Foreign Office and the Treasury must have known was coming along for the last five months.
Funnily enough, one particularly offensive piece of EU decision making appears to be sailing through these choppy waters unchallenged. The TTIF has a few clauses that should be a cause of concern, chief among them the Investor-State Dispute Settlement, which allows corporations to sue governments in the event that they pass legislation that they deem harmful to their profits. This isn’t just about unfair targeting of business by parliaments – it includes laws meant to provide social, environmental and consumer protection, as well as allay public health issues. Apparently this isn’t the sort of influence that Eurosceptics feel the need to shout about. Then again, big business has always tended to find itself in the eye of every storm.