David Davis, Boris Johnson and Theresa May, in happier times. (Getty Images)

The Bulletin: Looking real strong and stable there Britain

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: British politics loses the plot completely, Gareth Morgan winds up The Opportunities Party, and defence minister Ron Mark gets some new planes. 

The wheels have completely fallen off British politics, over what the government wants out of Brexit negotiations. Yesterday, Brexit secretary David Davis resigned, just a few days after a deal was seemingly hammered out among their cabinet at the country residence of Chequers. But overnight, foreign secretary Boris Johnson also announced he was quitting, reports the BBC, causing a full-blown political crisis. Their concerns are that under the Chequers agreement put together by the cabinet, Britain will still be far too close to the European Union – a view shared by many Conservative Party backbenchers, who may try and force a vote of no confidence on PM Theresa May.

How did it get like this? Is it at all possible that May’s slogan in the 2017 snap election – Strong and Stable – wasn’t quite true? Fundamentally, the problem for the British government is that they want what they can’t have. They have been pushing for various benefits of being close to Europe, without realising they are turning their back on those by leaving the Union – here’s a recent Reuters story where Europe points that out. The Brits have been accused of negotiating a “fantasy” Brexit, and it’s hard to see where they go from here.

So what happens now? The May government could fall, and it’s telling that influential Brexit-supporting paper The Sun appears to be tacitly backing Johnson. In the Guardian, Martin Kettle argues that Johnson’s resignation was more about his own ego than Brexit, but believes May will have the numbers to survive. ‘Remainers’ are also sensing a serious opportunity, as if the Chequers agreement falls over, it would be the perfect time to push for some sort of do-over. It isn’t certain which side would win a second vote, but the Brexit side has hardly covered itself in glory throughout this whole sorry saga.

And what about New Zealand? The NZ government has indicated enthusiasm to start negotiation a trade deal with post-Brexit Britain. Radio NZ reported in February that Britain saw us and Australia as “quick wins” towards developing new trading relationships. As well as that, New Zealanders themselves might end up coming back from Britain if it all turns completely pear-shaped. That’s the view of a recruitment firm, who talked to Stuff in March about it.


The Opportunities Party is no more. With a terse statement from party founder Gareth Morgan, they disappeared forever, voluntarily deregistered by the Electoral Commission. They went out raining shots down on the many people who hadn’t voted for them, saying policy was not those voters’ priority, in their press statement. Gareth Morgan spoke to The Spinoff overnight, saying he enjoyed “pissing off the flakes and groupies.”

If you feel the need, relive the giddy heights of their solitary election campaign through this majestic effort from Duncan Greive, who spent a couple of days with the core campaign team and wrote about it. And then also wrote about the fallout from that.


Defence minister Ron Mark got his new planes. Newshub reports that the government will buy four Boeing P-8 Poseidon airplanes, worth a cool $2.3 billion all up. It follows the NZDF’s strategic statement yesterday, in which various warnings were made about future threats. The Greens say they wouldn’t have bought the planes, as they believe the Defence Force should move away from combat capability.


Landlords are much more likely to take cases to the Tenancy Tribunal than renters, reports The Wireless. Despite the Tribunal being set up largely in order to protect the rights of tenants (and is funding by the interest on tenants’ bonds)   advocates say the tribunal is an intimidating space, and cases largely go against tenants.


Calls are mounting for an investigation into allegations made against the late Te Awanui Black, reports Radio NZ. The iwi leader and regional councillor, who died in 2016, has been accused of being a paedophile by his ex-wife, Anihera Black. She says she became aware he was living a double life before he died, and that she couldn’t stay silent any longer.

On that subject, whanaunga of the Black family Graham Cameron writes on The Spinoff that he believes Anihera’s account, and that it is important to take people seriously when they bring such accusations forward. He says her statement is a chance to break the cycle of abuse – Te Awanui himself was abused as a child.


Look out on The Spinoff this morning at 7.30, when we’ll be publishing some fiery comments about business confidence and the new government from chair of Sky City Rob Campbell. Here’s a sample: “A positive business investment response to the climate and environmental challenges we have is exciting, and will be a mark of this generation shifting from the complacent and careless response of my own generation.” It could create quite the stir.

UPDATE: It’s 7.30, so here it is: Business has no right to a second winter of discontent, writes Rob Campbell.


Another thing to keep an eye on today – at some stage nurses will announce the results of their vote on the latest offer from DHBs. There is real uncertainty about what the decision will be, and if it’s a no, they’ll be out on strike.


So this is a strange and interesting story from the Otago Daily TimesAn ODT journalist was interviewing a top US researcher about advanced military technology, when the line suddenly went dead. The researcher had previously worked for the US military, and the prospect of someone listening in and then muting the call was discussed. Is that possible? Maybe, say experts talked to for the story, but unlikely. Still, makes you wonder if we should all be wrapping our heads in tinfoil before making sensitive calls.


From our partners, Vector’s Chief Networks Officer Andre Botha writes that while making and selling electricity from the comfort of home might sound like some dodgy online scam, it’s not as far-fetched as you might think.


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Esther Stephens and Antonia Prebble, with the biggest hair on TV.

Right now on The Spinoff: Baz Macdonald writes about why he finds being a children’s story-teller so rewarding, and gives some tips for how to do it well. Sam Brooks writes about the show Westside, and the mythologising of New Zealand’s recent past. And Simon Day meets the people who have taken on the immense challenge of running Auckland’s famed French Cafe.


You might have heard about a viral story from the last few days about a couple who met on a flight after a seat swap. The couple behind them started posting tweets about it, the thread started going viral, and by the time they landed the world was agog at a heartwarming romance unfolding in front of their eyes in real time.

If that’s the story you heard, this piece by Ella Dawson is a must read. It reframes the story completely, as what it actually was – a gross invasion of privacy.

“A woman boarded a plane in New York and stepped off that plane in Dallas. She chatted with a stranger, showed him some family photos, brushed his elbow with her own. She wore a baseball cap over her face and followed him back on Instagram. At no point did she agree to participate in the story Rosey Blair was telling. After the fact, when the hunt began and the woman took no part in encouraging it the way Holden did, Blair tweeted a video in which she drawled, “We don’t have the gal’s permish yet, not yet y’all, but I’m sure you guys are sneaky, you guys might…”

The photographed woman in question is now doing all they can to avoid becoming a public figure. She’s made her social media accounts private, declined interview requests, and generally tried to avoid being part of any of the storm. And no, they’re not actually a couple by all accounts. But the problem here, as the Ella Dawson piece goes into depth on, is that she doesn’t really have a choice. If something gets posted of you on social media, it can easily get out of control very quickly.

So if you’re unnerved by this story, and the implications it has for privacy – please, follow the rule of simply not participating in them. Don’t take photos of strangers and turn them into content without their permission if it’s not newsworthy. It is incredibly creepy. These are real people with real lives, and everyone deserves the right to privacy, even if in the digital age that’s becoming increasingly difficult to exercise.


We haven’t really covered Wimbledon in The Bulletin yet, but the tournament is turning into a classic. And by classic, I mean two old favourites are looking good for a win. The NZ Herald reports that in the women’s draw, Serena Williams is cruising ahead through a field bereft of top-10 names. Williams herself was seeded 25th after coming back from maternity leave. And in the men’s draw, could Roger Federer do it one more time? He’s into the quarterfinals, and has a real chance to defend his title.

Football World Cup News

Now, I made a reference in yesterday’s Bulletin about England, and the Cup “coming home.” Some people didn’t get it, and fair enough, some people have better things to do than obsessively keep up with every silly meme going around. But it refers to this song – subtitled Football’s Coming Home – a seriously dubious tournament anthem which now has cult status, and renewed popularity, now that England might actually win something. Here’s a Guardian piece that explains the meme in detail, thus robbing it of its power.


That’s it for the The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, please forward it on and encourage them to sign up here.


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