INTERVIEW: Ana Ulsig talks Brazil, Liberty the play, Kath Duncan and more

I recently sat down Ana Luiza Ulsig who is starring in the LGBTQ play “Liberty”, where she will play the Prison Governor and Sandy Duncan (Kath’s husband,) directed by the highly acclaimed and respected Karen Douglas. We talked through a wide variety of topics, including the state of politics in Brazil, LGBTQ history and Liberty, Kath Duncan, history and a wide number of topics in this fantastic interview.

Ana is a Brazilian Danish performer and writer based in London, where she recently completed Rose Bruford College’s Master program in Actor Performer Training. Ana started taking theatre lessons by the age of 11 and holds a BA in Acting from the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO).

She says that she accumulated a vast experience in theatre, including improvisation, street theatre, musicals, comedy; as well as TV soap operas, commercials, and films. Ana participated in the project “Nós do Morro”, a cultural/social initiative in the slum of Vidigal, in Rio, and has always been engaged in projects that aim for social transformation.

That includes the work developed with TÁ NA RUA street theatre company, with regular presentations on the streets; as well as the project “Rock’n Lixo”, which she co-wrote and produced, and was awarded a 100.000 BRL grant from the Rio Municipality to tour around arenas in less favored areas of the city. This project included a Sign Language interpreter for the hearing impaired, free transportation for students of public schools, and recycled puppets workshops, as this related to the subject of the play.

Currently, Ana is rehearsing for the play “Liberty”, by Ray Barron-Woolford, and working on the authorial project “The Journey of a Warlike Mind”, about the birth of a woman’s voice. The play is inspired by Mary Wollstonecraft, a British writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights, considered the mother of modern feminism.

  1. With recent events in Brazil in mind, how important is it for you to participate in a political production of this calibre?

 

Seb, for me being in this production at this moment it’s not only important, it’s essential. It is an exercise of democracy and self-expression, by celebrating and remembering part of our heritage that had been buried until now. Digging up the story of Katherine Duncan and making it known for the public is in itself a fight against silencing people who fight for freedom and equal rights for all human beings.

 

As I give voice to this story as an actress, lending my body, my voice, my work, I feel that the story is feeding me in return, awakening my own voice and giving me strength to continue fighting in these dark times.

 

I feel that we, as a society, naively think we have outgrown certain mistakes from the past, when it comes to justice, to a fair world, to humanity. But the truth is, in my view, we are repeating old structures without asking ourselves if they serve us, individually and as a collective.

 

In Brazil today we have an immense parcel of the society who used to be suppressed, and/or to be in misery, and who are finally speaking out. The indigenous, black people, miserable people (economically speaking) and women.

Ana says that Women in Brazil, have finally visualized our value and where we deserve to stand. What is happening in Brazil (and in other corners of the world now as we speak) is a reaction to these masses finally awakening. Because it means change, it means transformation, and some people really don’t want to leave their comfortable positions.

 

It is my responsibility as an artist to provoke questioning and transformation in a deep and intimate level. For it is in this deep and intimate place within us that it all begins. Changing the micro to change the macro. I like to say the artists are the doctors of the souls.

 

Nowadays, we see a play or a movie about the time when Hitler was ruling and we say “wow, it was so horrible what they did back then. Thank god we’re over it.” Right? I’m proud to be in this production because it asks: are we? Are we over it?

 

 

  1. What was it about the story of the Scottish communist activist Kath Duncan that inspired you about the play?

 

That has actually to do with how I decided to apply for this play. I was in the middle of an intense phase of my master’s course (at Rose Bruford College), facing several deadlines, and I wasn’t looking for jobs yet. But I was keeping an eye out for what was going on, and when I saw the post about the auditions for LIBERTY, I didn’t think twice. I just knew I had to apply, and I got the part!

 

Ana speaks passionately about the character, the main inspiration for me was the fact that such an important person in history had been “forgotten”, “lost in files”, do you know what I mean?

 

Moreover, that this person was a woman. For me, that was extremely inspiring. It resonates with my own story, with my family’s stories, with the stories of women in my life and from previous generations. Women who were silenced, forgotten, lost in files.

 

We are talking about centuries of abuse, of suppression. Kath’s story talks about the lives of the baby girls who were thrown in the river in China, and it talks about me. It is a story that still trespasses time, still! So, I want to listen to her and learn from her. Kath awakes me to the notion that we are still in a battle for free speech.

 

  1. Kath Duncan participated in the battle of cable street against Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, with the election of Bolsonaro and the current emergence of far-right forces in society how important is the anti-fascist struggle to you. 

 

I like that you mention this because in this play we are talking about heritage, history and the importance of learning from the past to understand the present to be able to build the future.

 

The current emergence of far-right forces shows how far behind we still are. It shows the worst and darkest part of the Brazilian society. It is impressive that 55% of the valid votes were in favor of a fascist figure. 57,8 million votes. It is an outstanding number of people who think like him, on some level.

 

During the elections process, people started showing what they really think. Voting for Bolsonaro, is basically an authorization for racism, male chauvinism, hatred against LGBT, and so on. People who think like that, now feel they have a legitimation, they are not hiding it anymore.

 

In the past months, I have heard speeches of hate, of people admitting they agree when Bolsonaro says that women should earn less because we have babies. Who says that some woman didn’t deserve to be raped because she wasn’t pretty enough. It is absurd, and on some level 57,8 million people (in Brazil only) agree with the vision that this man has of the world.

 

It also shows the ignorance of a lot of people, who sees him as a saviour (Ana draws on the similarities between Bolsonaro and Hitler are says they are not mere coincidence….) and don’t really research about him, about the work he has done and what he represents.

 

It shows the lack of education, of knowledge, which is the result of centuries of suppression of the society, by feeding the herd without allowing each individual to think on his/her own, have opinions and, ultimately, the right of free speech, which Kath fought so hard for.

 

In the play, I play the prison governor. It is the role I auditioned for because I like the challenge of putting myself in other people’s shoes and lighting up the darkness within my own self. It is the only way of understanding where we are and how things can change. This prison governor represents to me this view that still lives among us, narrow-minded, male chauvinist, that women are inferior, that the poor don’t deserve civil rights, that gays should be killed.

 

This is the kind of thing I have been hearing. This mindset exists, and apparently in a wide scale. I am proud to give voice to this view on stage, in order for us to see it, acknowledge it, admit it among us, discuss it, change it. We can’t continue pretending everything is fine, this far-right/fascist dictatorship still lives discreetly among us, in us, it is about how we see ourselves, and each other.

This struggle makes me ask questions like “Who am I? What do I think? Do I value myself, as a woman? Do I need to change my own view of my own self?

 

  1. Considering how the story of Kath Duncan and the LGBT civil rights struggle in the 30’s isn’t too well known, what is the significance of these events today?

 

The thing that strikes me the most about Kath’s fight is that she wasn’t only after changing things for a particular group, or for women, she was fighting for ALL, for human kind. And she was a woman with an incredible generosity to extend her actions. She was fighting for the right of free speech, independently of who you are – gender, race, economic state…

 

She became a symbol of liberty in a broader sense. I believe that it is our duty to cherish and respect the work she did in the past, and continue it, increase it, grow and transform.

 

  1.  What is your opinion on the current political happenings in Brazil such as former president Lula’s imprisonment and the election of Bolsonaro?

 

At this moment, I find it hard to know what is true. We are living in a big messy pool of information, opinions, news of which we don’t know the source; and in Brazil the unmasking of a massive corruption that started with our colonization. I think it’s funny that many voted for Bolsonaro because “PT (the labour party) destroyed the Brazilian economy, was corrupt, etc etc…”. But what has to be taken into account is that this structure started 500 years ago, not 13 years ago. That during the ruling of Lula and, afterwards, Dilma, the corruption finally had the chance of being broken, this space was given. I don’t agree with everything they did during their governments, but I recognize they gave space for a massive part of the society that was in misery, and the space for corruption to show its faces.

 

I think Bolsonaro being ellected is a step back, BUT I also see that we have built a strong base, that allows us not to fall back into old habits. I think we are facing danger but we are also prepared to fight. And this is new.

That is why stories like Kath Duncan’s are so important to be told, and celebrated. She is part of this base, part of why today we can say we are prepared to fight. To continue fighting. For Kath, for you, for me, for our ancestors, and our future generations.

 

The plays website can be found at www.kathduncan.com and the link to buy tickets, https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/deptford-heritage-festival 

If you’re interested in finding out more information about the hugely inspiring Ana, her website can be found here,www.analuizaulsig.com

Cover Photo Credit: Andre Groth, group Ta na Rua.

AROUND THE WORLD: Indictment Reveals American Neo-Nazis Were Trained In Ukraine Possibly With US Funding

An unsealed FBI indictment has revealed that 4 American Neo-Nazis from the Rise Above Movement have trained with the Ukrainian Fascist Azov Battalion. The indictment noted that the Azov Battalion “is believed to have participated in training and radicalizing United States-based white supremacy organizations.”

This revelation has come soon after the massacre of 11 Jewish worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue by an armed anti-Semite assailant. It reveals a deep rooted problem of Fascism within the United States as the far right have become emboldened by world events.

The group known as the Rise Above Movement have participated in violent clashes against American based Antifa groups in Charlottesville and California. The 4 men have been charged for their actions in Charlottesville, which helped culminate in the murder of socialist organiser Heather Heyer.

The indictment found that the 4 Nazis had met with Olena Semanyaka, the leader of the international department of the Ukrainian National Corps, which functions as a civilian arm of the Azov Battalion. Azov became an active and influential far right militia following the events of Euromaiden in 2014 as Fascist organisers participated in the revolt. One such organiser Oleh Tyahnybok, who once demanded an investigation into an alleged “Jewish-Muscovite mafia” that controlled Ukraine, appeared on stage with deceased US senator John McCain who greeted protesters during the crisis. Likewise Andriy Biletsky, who led the forerunner to Azov, wrote that the events were part of “A crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”

Recently, Congress has finally passed legislation that forbids the arming of Azov (it has previously allowed such funding for 3 years). Despite this, the Trump administrations 200 million dollar funding to the Ukrainian army will still likely see US arms in the hands of Neo-Nazis who dominate the front lines. When questioned whether these arms could find themselves to be acquired by Azov, US military officials admitted there was no mechanism in place to prevent that from happening. Ivan Katchanovski, a professor of political science at the University of Ottawa and expert on the Ukrainian Neo-Nazi movement has stated that “It’s very corrupt in Ukraine and money can be stolen — the same as in Syria where extremist fighters got guns from U.S.-backed units,” 

Not content with arming the far right, the American establishment has sought ties with some of the most putrid figures of the Ukrainian Nazi scene. C14 gang leader Serhiy Bondar, who has participated in programs against Ukraine’s Roma population, was invited to speak at the government funded America House Kyiv. Likewise, the NATO and Republican Paul Ryan funded Atlantic Council invited the founder of the Social-Nationalist Party and Roma pogrom participant Andriy Parubiy for a meeting in Congress.

In order to justify this not so subtle armament of Neo-Nazis, the American media has attempted to whitewash clear far right activity in Ukraine. One pundit, James Kirchick, described the Ukrainian fighters as “Putin’s imaginary Nazis.” The justification for this armament comes about as America once again seeks to fight Russia via unstable proxy forces. In similar past circumstances the United States has funded anti-Soviet jihadists in Afghanistan including Osama Bin Laden, anti-communist military junta forces in El Salvador who infamously raped and killed 4 American nuns and now Neo-Nazi volunteers in Ukraine fighting Russian separatists.

All these cases have resulted in severe blow-back for the United States. America’s culpability for co-opting Fascist rhetoric and violence has resulted in nothing but destruction and will likely continue. The 4 men trained in Ukraine have used their skills to assault and bludgeon US citizens in Fascist riots. The extent of the damage potentiality caused by the funding of these, among other, far-right radicals in the US and in Europe remains to be fully seen.

It’s Not The Student Left Shutting Down Debate

When, naive, and blinkered by my rose spectacles, I sauntered in to University, sans a dog-eared Marx,  I was hoping to find a melee of open-minded debaters, and more than a few folks with fingerless gloves, adorned by the iconic image of Che Guevara. Together we would have book-readings, exchange ideas, and become more enlightened, cogent debaters. We would become a fraternity of free-thinkers, united by our passion for debate.

Naive, blinkered, I was undoubtedly optimistic about that.

Whilst student unions are usually berated for being zealously left wing, you can hardly say that of some Universities. Instead, many unions have bred a homogenous group of right wing conformist hecklers who try to steal the mantle of reasonable debate for themselves and who complain the Left go round telling people that they’re wrong when the left are merely respecting debating traditions by establishing what is factually accurate and objectively true and asking the right if they might reflect at length on the way they may be wrong, which is met with trolling. The left gather facts and evidence, presented in sober and convincing fashion, and are attacked for it.

It’d be easy to assume from all this that I’ve found university a horrible experience, but I’ve loved meeting new people and contrasting our ideas. Nevertheless, it’s incredibly frustrating when, trying to explore a political tradition, rampant misinformation and stereotyping strangles and suffocates your best efforts.

It’s incredibly frustrating to witness the level of misinformation and stereotyping levelled against advocates of safe spaces. Whilst there is legitimate, scientific research in to the relationship between PTSD and triggers, qualifying claims that safe spaces ought to be nurtured in aid of minorities and trauma victims, there is a paucity of research in to whether or not safe spaces are damaging free speech. That claim is in vogue in the opinion columns but it’s exactly that; an unsubstantiated claim in vogue in the opinion columns. In the apoplectic moral panic around safe spaces, it is absurd, but amusing, how twisted the most privileged knickers get. They are impervious to reason. Is it really too much to demand trauma survivors be spared the horror of their triggers? Is it too much to ask that their are reasonable adjustments made by Universities to accomodate their needs? The free speechers seem to think they are politically repressed by minorities and trauma survivors overcoming their oppression; it is not condescending to point out that that is indicative of privilege.

In addition, many are hiding behind free speech to protect their bigotry from criticism. Too many graduates of tomorrow unthinkingly accept the insidious notion that freedom of speech and criticism means that prejudice parading as debate can cruise down the rapids of public discussion unchallenged. They invoke free speech to defend transphobia. They complain about people being offended by everything and then get offended to be told they are frankly offensive. The level of hypocrisy is astonishing.

To my mind, the left must accept that right wing views are not the moral failure of individual people, but the symptom of a healthy, pluralist democracy. I’d also like to see more discourse with people who are sceptical about the left but willing to debate respectfully. But we musn’t fear being factually accurate and objectively correct about bigotry just because trolls are upset you’ve called out their lies.

If I’m right that the left is a forward thinking, democratic movement, the prestige of reasonable debate is ours to claim, but we must be more confident in asserting it, in taking it out of the hands of people who would happily abuse the tradition of free speech to further their bigoted agendas.

Mueller’s Russia election inquiry seeks more information about Nigel Farage

Robert Mueller is seeking more information about Prominent Brexiteer Nigel Farage in his investigation about Russian meddling in the US presidential election, raising more questions over Russian links to the UK’s Brexit referendum.

Jerome Corsi, a conservative author, said prosecutors working for Mueller questioned him about Farage as well as Ted Malloch, a London-based American academic with ties to Farage.

Corsi confirmed to the Guardian those conducting the investigation were asking about Farage stating

“They asked about both Nigel and Ted Malloch, I can affirm that they did but I’m really not going into detail because I respect the special counsel and the legal process.”

Corsi and several other conservative political operatives have been under investigation by Mueller for months in relation to the theft of Democratic party emails in 2016 by Russian hackers.

Farage has denied all allegations about Russian interference but it is well known prominent Euroskeptics have received Russian support in the past including figures like Marine Le Pen.

Corsi said the questions were about“Predominantly US politics, but of course, Brexit was in the background.”

The investigation had previously taken interest in one of the main financial backers of the leave vote, Aaron Banks. It was reported Mueller had obtained communications that Banks had conducted with Russian diplomats.

More follows

BREAKING: Brexit divorce deal to be signed off tomorrow

A cabinet source has told both The Sun and the BBC that the Brexit withdrawal agreement has been approved ‘at a technical level’ by officials from both sides. Cabinet ministers will meet with the Prime Minister one by one tonight ahead of a full meeting ‘early tomorrow afternoon’.

Former BBC political editor Nick Robinson described this evening as a ‘now or never’ moment for Brexit supporting MPs who have threatened to quit over the deal.

The full withdrawal agreement is reportedly over 400 pages in length, and ministers will be given the opportunity to scrutinise it before the meeting tomorrow. An EU source confirmed that a “stable text” had been sent to London, but officials were not calling it a deal, saying full agreement at political level was still needed: “It is now about seeing if this sticks”

The future of the Irish border had been the final issue needing to be resolved, and it would appear that has now been done. If approved tomorrow, the cabinet will commence their plan to sell the deal to the public and other MPs.

If the deal is agreed by Cabinet she will need to persuade Parliament to vote for it. A significant number of Tory MPs have already pledged to vote against it, if it resembles her Chequers’ proposal, and Labour have also pledged to vote against it if it does not meet their 6 tests.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition, has put out a statement about the developments:

“We will look at the details of what has been agreed when they are available. But from what we know of the shambolic handling of these negotiations, this is unlikely to be a good deal for the country. Labour has been clear from the beginning that we need a deal to support jobs and the economy – and that guarantees standards and protections. If this deal doesn’t meet our six tests and work for the whole country, then we will vote against it.”

The Privatisation of Higher Education

In 2010, it was announced that tuition fees would rise from £3,000 to £9,000 – in defiance of the manifesto pledge made by Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats.

Thousands lost their faith in contemporary politics, which prompted the Student Protests of 2010. News coverage focused on the actions of a minority responsible for damaging infrastructure at the Conservative Party Headquarters in London. The Metropolitan Police were overwhelmed with the violence, Sir Paul Stephenson noted that his offers would go through a ‘thorough operation to get full control of the building’ and recognised that their anticipation of violence could have been ‘better’.

Harriet Harman, Labour MP for Camberwell and Peckham, questioned the intentions of Nick Clegg. She asked: ‘In April, he [Clegg] said that increasing tuition fees to £7,000 a year would be a disaster. What word would he use to describe fees of £9,000?’ However, nothing changed despite the violence, frustration, and opposition from members of the House of Commons.

Since then, there was a major change in attitudes and expectations within the higher education sector, with students expecting a better service for their money. Student expectations, caused by rising tuition fees, have torn the heart and soul out of higher education in England and Wales.

Higher education institutions have been slow to respond to the corporatisation of universities and it is not surprising that legal and non-legal action has increased over recent years. In 2014, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, responsible for disputes following internal procedures, ruled on 2,175 cases brought forward by students in England and Wales. In total, the OIA forced institutions to pay £400,000 in financial compensation to students in 2014.

In 2018, following industrial action by staff and students across the country, it is estimated that around 5,000 students united and filed a lawsuit requesting compensation of around £20 million. The main grievance was that students had lost teaching, which they were paying for, and in respect of this loss they should be appropriately compensated by their universities. The University and College Union estimated that the strike action affected more than one million students and led to a loss of 575,000 teaching hours in England and Wales.

With universities falling short of expectations and tuition fees continuing to rise, there has been more calls for the government to create a legally binding contract between institutions and their students. Jo Johnson, former Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, claimed that contracts would offer students greater protection and ensure that institutions would deliver to high standards. He stated: ‘Clearly it is in the nature of a contract that someone who feels that the benefits promised in the contract are not getting delivered would have some form of redress.’ He concluded: ‘Clearly, through the consultation options that we will be publishing in the course of time, we’ll see what those options will consist of, but legal remedies are certainly not excluded.’

There has been a low, but constant, move towards the corporatisation of colleges and universities in the United Kingdom. It is no surprise that this statement was issued by an anonymous academic for the Guardian: ‘Eventually, feeling depressed and demotivated, I left my university and the UK. It strikes me that UK academia is in danger of devaluing experience and expertise, taking away academics’ freedom and focusing instead on delivering a standardised product. The marketisation of higher education makes working in a UK university feel like working in a business, transforming it into a stifling, rule-bound environment that damages collegiality.’

So, are we focusing too much on business and not enough on the core values of higher education? If so, we are in danger of permanently changing the nature and direction of education in the United Kingdom.

Opinion from the author -Thomas Howard:

Higher education is being pushed down a dangerous path by the policies espoused by the Conservative Government. How can we save it? It is essential that high expectations are removed, and this can be easily achieved by scrapping tuition fees, or at least lowering them to a sustainable level. Too many students have been disappointed with their results, to the extent of pursuing legal action, or the structure of their course following the increase in tuition fees in 2010. Of course, we should strive for high quality in our universities, but we should not create a hostile division between staff and students and encourage stakeholders to file legal action at the first opportunity. I recognise that legal action may be essential in some cases, but it cannot become the norm. It is essential that we have greater government oversight and that internal routes for redress are made more accessible to students across the United Kingdom. We can save our universities and colleges, but we must act fast.

Irish PM warns UK to “stand by its commitments over Irish Border issue”

The Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar has told the UK Government that it must avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, honouring its commitments to the Irish Peace Process.

With the UK due to leave the EU on March 29th next year, tensions have been mounting that a deal to solve the border issue will not be reached. The EU has cited the issue of Ireland as the key reason no Brexit deal has been reached, and Theresa May has vowed to find a way to stop a hard border. And Varadkar, has said that if there is an arrangement reached, it cannot feature a time limit.

The has deepened in recent weeks due to disagreements over the agreed ‘backstop’, with questions being raised over whether it should apply to the whole of the UK or just Northern Ireland, as well as fears over a proposed ‘time limit.

Any agreement that sees the reintroduction of a hard border would inevitable break the Good Friday Agreement as it would mean goods would have to be checked when they pass through the border and there is speculation of passport checks at the border. However, if there was to be a backstop applying only to Northern Ireland and not the whole of the UK, then this would create a hard border in the sea between N.I. and the U.K., as Northern Ireland would stay in the customs union (potentially for a time-limited period).

Earlier today, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, is reported to have called the Irish Taoiseach in order to “calm anger” across the sea over comments made by Brexit secretary Dominic Raab. Mr Raab is rumoured to have claimed there should be a time-limit of just three months on the Backstop agreement, which is said to have left Mr Varadkar deeply concerned and upset. Mrs May is claimed to have reassured him that her very own Brexit Secretary’s comments are not the UK’s policy, reemphasising her commitment to a full backstop that would work for the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

 

Deal or No Deal, hosted by Dominic Raab- How the Tories flip flopped on a Brexit deal

At long last we have a clear idea of when a deal will be made with the EU, resolving all issues including the seemingly impossible to negotiate Irish border. Or we did. For two and a half hours.

Much like when a cult leader tells their followers the exact date and time the world will come to an end, Brexit secretary Dominic Raab has informed us ‘the end is in sight’ and that he will be able to come to an agreement with the EU by November 21st. Luckily we didn’t have to cross our fingers as the clock passed midnight, instead a spokesperson for Raab’s department told us this date wasn’t official less than three hours after Raab’s proposed timetable was public.

Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Brexit Secretary and Raab’s opposite number, called this ‘one of the quickest u-turns in political history’.

The comment was made in a letter penned to the Brexit select committee, who require Dominic Raab to appear in front of MP’s to give evidence regarding the status of the negotiations. The letter was incredibly optimistic and caused a rise in the pound briefly, once Raab backtracked and it was clear the date wasn’t reliable the value withdrew once again.

Theresa May had to distance herself from the comment, an official spokesperson for the Prime Minister saying they were hoping to reach a deal soon but refused to confirm this date as a realistic deadline. Confusion also came from the EU side, as they confirmed ‘nothing new’ had arose from recent talks with the UK and ‘there are no new ideas’ in regards to the Irish border issue.

The Irish border continues to be the major concern as no current proposals reach the mark with any party involved the negotiations. Just over a week ago Theresa May told MP’s in the Commons that 95% of the negotiations were complete but Northern Ireland was still a ‘sticking point’. Despite the Government’s efforts to downplay the significance of Northern Ireland, their lack of progress makes it clear that the issue is worth far more than 5% of the UK’s negotiation efforts. The Prime Minister has her numbers inverted, we still have 95% of the way to go if we are to reach a deal with the EU and avoid violence erupting in Northern Ireland again.

Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade has put the responsibility on the UK and Dominic Raab to step up the intensity of the talks if a deal is to be agreed in the coming weeks. With the Brexit secretary visiting towns on the border this week and a British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference being held in Dublin, we should know how close we are to resolving the issue by Friday.

However what we should know and what we do know are always two very different things when it comes to this current Tory Government.