Much hand-wringing following news that the nitty-gritty of Brexit is being hammered out by millennials.
“No wonder it’s such a mess,” fumed one Twitter user in response to the Institute for Government’s revelation that the median age of staff in the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) is 31. “Easy meat for the EU negotiators,” huffed another. “The generation that doesn’t know how to change a fuse dominates the department responsible for changing our trade arrangements with the EU,” added a third.
Quite what changing a fuse has to do with navigating one of the trickiest diplomatic negotiations of modern times remains a mystery. Still, now we may have a clue as to why the much-vaunted blue passport has “returned” in the wrong shade — everyone involved was clearly too young to remember the inky, allegedly black, original.
But in all seriousness, is the millennial influence on Brexit really a bad thing? As one myself, I confess I have an interest; nevertheless, it’s not unreasonable to think that people my age should play a key role in shaping our exit. Factoring in a two-year transition period, the aforementioned 31-year-olds will be 34 by the time Brexit proper kicks in. It is, after all, my generation, and the generations to come, that will live with the consequences of ending (arguably) the most successful experiment in trans-national co-operation in history.
While our parents have enjoyed the benefits of free movement and trade, and unprecedented academic and scientific collaboration, we are the ones who risk going without. Largely against our will, too – of those who turned out, 75 per cent of 18-24 year olds and 60 per cent of 25-34 year olds, voted to remain, according to Ipsos MORI. Perhaps it is this last fact that explains the present furore. Had young people been pro-leave, or evenly split, their presence at the heart of DExEU would be considered unremarkable.
Maybe this in itself should be considered a boon not a burden. You can’t have a successful Brexit with only the 52 per cent on board. We’re already leaving; the fact that Theresa May has balanced her Cabinet doesn’t negate the fact that those who have so far been most prominently involved in delivering Brexit, David Davis and Liam Fox, both wanted out. Having a youthful Remain demographic represented could be seen as providing welcome balance. After all, if the Government wants to make a success of Brexit, it needs to take the whole country with it — Leave, Remain, old and young.
A post-Christmas palate-cleanser
Does January have an image problem? When everything from decluttering to drinking cold coffee is reinvented as a lifestyle trend, the first month of the year remains immune to aspirational rebranding.
But January is to December what a scoop of sorbet is to a tasting menu: palate-cleansing relief after an unwieldy free-for-all, a time of crisp new diaries and as-yet-unbroken resolutions.
More importantly, now is the one time when it’s perfectly acceptable to exist only in two postcodes (your home and your office) and to eschew all social activity in favour of evenings spent horizontal on the sofa, swaddled in blankets, lining up hot drinks like shots of sambuca. What could be better?
So is the First Lady fooling us all?
According to a new Gallup poll, Melania Trump is the eighth most- admired woman in the US — behind Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey but on a par with Beyoncé, a ranking that has perplexed many commentators as they grapple with pinning down the precise nature of the model-turned-First- Lady’s appeal.
Is it her “directional” fashion sense? Her unconventional taste in Christmas decorations? Or is it simply the flattering contrast provided by her husband (at last count, her favourability ratings stand at 54 per cent, whereas his are just 41 per cent)?
The jury is still out, though I prefer the theory that it’s all down to her adoption of cyberbullying as her cause of choice — a decision that one day, I hope, will be revealed to have been an act of supreme trolling towards the insult-tweeting POTUS.
Puppy lovers get ‘pawternity’
Good news for those who adopted a puppy at Christmas: The Wall Street Journal reports that companies have taken to granting employees paid “pawternity” leave to help their canine companions get settled. All very well — though one could see how the fur might start to fly in HR. How will cat lovers react if they aren’t granted similar rights? What about bunny owners? I have none of the above but I do have some rather high- maintenance houseplants, which would give a whole new meaning to gardening leave.