09/03/2017 Newsnight


With Kirsty Wark. The Government is under pressure over the National Insurance hike. Plus, Richard Dawkins on Brexit and what can the French film Elle tell us about rape?

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Is the answer when it is in a party manifesto?


As Philip Hammond is attacked from all sides for raising


National Insurance, will this become Theresa May's big issue of trust?


David Cameron's former Director of Communications


He can explain to people, here is a path I took and this


is why it is not a breach of a manifesto promise.


The problem with that, as you are asking me


and as you should rightly ask him and other members of the


government, is people perceive this to be a breach.


We'll be discussing making and breaking political promises.


Also tonight, we discuss Isabelle Huppert and Paul Verhoeven's Golden


Globe-winning thriller, Elle, and its complex portrayal


of one woman's response to the most horrific rape.


Can cinema take us to dark places where accepted views


on rape are challenged through the character of a woman


Three words freighted with probity and trust.


But, after anything but an explosive budget, a firecracker blew up


in the Chancellor's face today over the issue of a promise.


The question being, why does the government deny


breaking a manifesto pledge on National Insurance when the 2015


election manifesto clearly said there would be no increase


in National Insurance for the five years of an incoming


Is it ever right to to promise one thing and do another?


The Chancellor has raised the hackles of the right-wing press,


Tory backbenchers of many stripes, and the opposition alike.


Theresa May is in Brussels tonight where, at a press conference,


probably for the first time in her life, she was hoping


for questions about Brexit, but was pressed on this instead.


I'm joined by our political editor, Nick Watt.


What did she had to say about National Insurance?


She is standing by the fundamental principle of this budget change


which is that the self-employed should pay more in national


insurance contributions because now they are able to benefit from the


new state pension. She also bought herself time because legislation to


implement think these changes is not going to be introduced until the


autumn and I am hearing the first signs of how they are going to


soften the impact of this National Insurance rise, by waiting until the


autumn, the Chancellor will give himself the option of implementing


some of the recommendations in the report by the former Tony Blair at


Downing Street adviser Matthew Taylor. That could see maternity and


paternity rights extended to the self employed and that would be


very, very expensive. As I understand it, Philip Hammond is


watching this very carefully because what he is concerned about is the


revenue he has raised this week could be wiped out by that change.


All this for that. Possible we could be seeing the first signs of not


such a great relationship between numbers ten and 11? Theresa May and


Philip Hammond made great play of the pack they want to restore the


traditional relationship between Prime Minister and Chancellor and I


can now confirm we have the traditional tensions between a Prime


Minister who wants to spend and a Chancellor who wants to restrain


public spending. And I am hearing the sound of complaints from the


Treasury, firstly that number ten, I'm told, just want to spend money.


Important visit the Chancellor did cough up on schools and social care.


Secondly complaints that some senior political advisers around the Prime


Minister have what are described as anti-Tory ideas about raising taxes.


I'm told Philip Hammond had his work cut out battling against pressure to


raise capital gains tax and, wait for it, increasing the national


insurance contributions proposed this week to an even higher level


for higher rate taxpayers. It has been a pretty bumpy response to the


budget for the Chancellor so we thought we would take a look at the


pressures on him. There have been too many


in the last few years, too many Broken promises can be


lethal for politicians. Look what happened


to my namesake when the Liberal Democrat policy


on tuition fees collided with the harsh reality


of coalition government. And now Philip Hammond, the man


who hoped to forge a duller and less glitzy era in the Treasury,


and who would never be seen dead doing a stunt


like this, has been caught out Make no mistake, they


are feeling pain in the Treasury today as


the right-wing press savages the Chancellor for breaking


that general election pledge One source familiar with


the thinking in numbers ten and 11 Downing St told me,


this is all about trust. This troubled Budget will be


remembered as the first self-inflicted wound


of this government. And so far, nearly 20 Tory MPs,


including the Wales Office Minister Guto Bebb, have


questioned the change. It won't have the


support from people We need to get out there


and support entrepreneurs. As I say, they are the


backbone of this economy. They are taking risks,


opening small businesses, employing those apprentices, giving


young people a chance. We have done for seven years and I'm


going to make sure we My Whitehall source admitted


that the government had slipped up by appearing


to target white van man. In fact, the changes


were aimed at catching out what are described as spivs


and dodgy accountants. I think this is an interesting


cultural economic moment, where the Conservative Party, which has long


revelled in the impression that it was the party of enterprise and


small entrepreneurs, has shown it There will be an opportunity


in politics for other parties to make


a pitch for these voters. The Chancellor is


reluctant to back down. He needs the ?2 billion


the changes will generate This evening, Theresa May pointed


to a way out, using a review by a former Labour Downing Street


official to soften the tax rises. What we are likely to see


from the government is probably what they should have done


when they first made this announcement yesterday,


which is to set it much more in a broader context of


looking at the whole picture of taxation for the self


employed, which would be about the national insurance that


firms pay when they employ people and use


self-employed workers, not just that paid directly


by the self-employed, and set it in the context of giving


the self employed more benefit entitlements,


like an maternity pay, and more support with things


like pension savings. That overall package of support


and slightly higher taxes is probably what we will see


from the government in the coming months,


and that's a good thing. If he emerges unscathed,


Philip Hammond may reflect, he is the victim of a style


of politics he hoped to end. That was the habit of George Osborne


and Gordon Brown to lay traps for their


political opponents. It was George Osborne who outlined


the tax lock at the last No increases in VAT,


National Insurance contributions, or This was a political trap,


the so-called tax lock, to try and catch Labour out,


but actually it has ended up catching out the Tories


and they have fallen Probably the best comparison


for Gordon with the 2015 Budget was Gordon's 2001


pre-election budget, where he framed the election question as more


investment, not less, and he invited the Conservative Party


to oppose his spending plans. The difference was that Gordon


was almost certain to be back in Downing Street


after that election, so he could only make commitments


like that if he was certain that he could


deliver on them. The difference with George Osborne


was that he probably wasn't ever expecting to be back


in Downing Street to have to implement this tax guarantee,


which made him far more reckless than he otherwise


would have been. Who would have thought that such


a steady Chancellor would find his budget being


buffeted in the wind? Perhaps spreadsheet Phil is looking


back wistfully at his The man who was at David Cameron's


shoulder when the Conservative manifesto for the 2015 election


was written and pledges made, was his Director of Communications,


Craig Oliver. You have been literally in the thick


of this before. In terms of manifesto pledges and commitments


and so forth. Looking at this, the Chancellor insisted this is not the


break of a manifesto but is it or not? The issue is, do people


perceive it to be. The reality is that most people perceive this to be


the breaking of our pledge. Would it have been better if he had just


said, I'm breaking a manifesto promise, I'm going to raise class


for national insurance because circumstances have changed since


2015? Philip Hammond as a defender and I believe he is sincere in that


and thinks that he is in a position where he can explain to people, here


is a path I took and it is why it is not a breach of a manifesto promise.


The problem with that, as you are asking me and as you should rightly


ask him and other members of the government, is people perceive this


to be a breach. They feel that when they looked specifically at what was


written, you have breached that. The problem again with that if people


start asking questions, can we trust you, are you being legalistic,


dancing on the head of it was a ludicrous pledge to say that over


the whole lifetime of the next government there would be no


increases in VAT, national insurance for income tax? I don't think it is


but once a political party has made that pledge and got into government


you end up in a difficult decision if you are perceived to have broken


that. David Cameron was always clear on this that when you made a pledge,


you should not go back on it. He was constantly lobbied on international


aid or the triple lock for pensioners by people saying, look at


all this money we could take it we went back on this and he said, but


I've made a promise to the poorest people and pensioners and what would


people say if I went back on that? He knew he would reap the whirlwind


if he broke those pledges. If you were advising Philip Hammond what


would you advise on to say? The most interesting question is, do you


actually intend to stick with this having delivered it in the budget?


If you are going to and you are sure you will, you have to defend the


decision you have taken an explain it. Having said that, the great


difficulty for him, the sheer fact we are doing this interview, is that


the entire perception of anybody looking at this is that you have


broken a pledge. I can see how people in government, when they are


balancing a lot of things, also moving parts, they get themselves


into a position where they persuade themselves that is dependable. Not


only was it called a pledge, David Cameron called it a Balliu, almost


it had a religious significance that they would be no tax rises so in


that regard it was very serious -- called it a value. When the decision


was taken to make this pledge, people thought through that this was


something that had to be defendable and people would be voting for them


on it. When that decision was made, it was done very seriously. If you


are the current government, you can say that actually the reality is


there are different people running number ten and number 11. I suspect


Philip Hammond actually thinks he was not explicit on this very


specific area and technicality. In political broad terms, you can


lampoon that and say it is ridiculous and a breach of trust but


I can see how people can get themselves into that position but


the problem is you have to be able to have people coming in late in the


day and say, how will this look? Thank you very much. We did ask to


speak to someone from the government tonight but nobody was available.


The Sun newspaper has been fiercely critical of the budget, and I'm now


joined by their political editor, Tom Newton Dunn.


Also, Polly Mackenzie, who worked for Nick Clegg and is no


stranger to the fallout of broken promises.


Good evening. First of all, how damaging is this for the government?


Having a broken promise can be enormously damaging to a political


party but the truth is that Philip Hammond and Theresa May don't think


of this as their manifesto, it is George Osborne's. They don't want to


put it out because they put it undermines the legitimacy and feels


they might have to call an election but said conduct have change and


environment have changed and if they own the truth which is that they


have defied the manifesto and make the case for this is not being...


And a bonkers idea in the first place? The triple lock? Absolutely.


It is George Osborne's political positioning and he is not exactly


the most popular person in the country. Call it his manifesto and


start talking about the fact that the Prime Minister, who is much more


popular, doesn't want to be limited by the political promises of her


predecessor who basically has moved on. The Sun newspaper said fight ban


scam. You are going to make sure it is damaging for the government. Very


much so, until the government decide they are not going to damage


themselves any longer. Theresa May seem to be starting some kind of


climb-down tonight, a recalibration. The truth is this will never get on


the statute books and we knew that from about half past eight this


morning when the first Tory MP said on the radio that they would vote


against it. They were joined by about 30 others so this will not go


ahead. What we will see if this play out over the summer, how they craft


some travel package together to make it look like they are not doing a


U-turn but they are. You take the view that actually gives government


should not be tied up by a manifesto from 2015 or does it require another


election? The entire government are all Tory


MPs getting themselves elected with the same problem. I am afraid that


they have to stick to this. Theresa May will say, huge amounts have


changed, different economy, different membership of the European


Union or not, so I can do something different. I have some sympathy for


Philip Hammond in that he has been immensely boxed in by all sorts of


clever gimmicks and promises made by George Osborne very successfully. It


destroyed the Lib Dems. They won the general election and they destroyed


Labour. Then they had to go on and govern with this incredible


ring-fencing on pensions, the lot of it. The manifesto also commits us to


staying in the single market. No Tory backbenchers are upset about


that. We have an entirely new government setting out a new agenda.


One of the key things that key things that Craig Oliver talked


about was the foreign aid, which is deeply unpopular in some sectors.


Many people want that shifted to social care. I doubt that Philip


Hammond will tamper with foreign aid. Do you think he might unravel


other parts of the manifesto in successive budgets? I don't think


they are going to make a priority of bringing a free vote on fox hunting.


Manifestos are filled with promises. The last manifesto was 25,000 words.


Probably only about 15 words from the Liberal Democrat one! There are


endless subclauses. So why have them? The voters must be going, what


is the point of a manifesto? It's all very well for you to say, they


don't read it, but the manifesto is meant to set out what the government


believes in. Brilliant, that means we can stay in the single market.


It's a promise, you say, this is what we are going to do, vote for us


and then we do it whether you believe it or not, you have to go


out of your way to do it, especially when these Sun readers vote for you


would it not dead, you can't turn round and say, no thanks. He is in a


terrible mess and we have sympathy. The other thing we will see if the


triple lock promised on pensions. The spending on the triple lock and


protecting Gray 's spending OAPs is astronomical, about ?78 billion,


which puts all of these 3 billion here and there on national insurance


rises into a small corner. Philip Hammond has bravely, I think,


already said, we need to look at this. Whether they will be able to


do it in time before the next election, it would be politically


toxic. But if pensioners agree that they want to undertake the triple


lock, they are not complaining about the manifesto. It becomes a badge of


honour to say you are complaining about the manifesto when actually it


is just a policy that you don't like.


Tom Newton Dunn and Polly Mackenzie are staying with us because,


alongside the farrago of the manifesto pledge


was the revelation that Philip Hammond's predecessor


is making good use of the economic and political acumen he gathered


when he was at number 11 Downing Street.


George Osborne declared an annual salary of ?650,000 for four days


work a month from the world's biggest fund management


It will augment his backbencher's salary of ?74,000, and speaking


engagements which bring in north of half a million.


He's certainly not the only former senior politician


to purse a lucrative life - Tony Blair owns the playbook.


But is all this good for politics or bad?


Do we need to talk about the revolving door?


People moving back and forth between government and the private sector.


George Osborne, the former Chancellor, is, we learn,


being paid ?650,000 per year to advise BlackRock,


an investment manager, for four days of work each month.


I think George Osborne would bring a wealth of knowledge


Having been the Chancellor of the Exchequer of this country.


He would also bring very good contacts around


the world in governments and the private sector.


The knowledge and the contacts that somebody like George Osborne


would have accumulated over his tenure are very


valuable for a period of about three to five years.


There is a Whitehall process for approving these things,


the advisory committee on business appointments, Acoba.


Acoba approved Mr Osborne's plans, and they've barred him


But lots of people who have been through Acoba don't


Acoba is this slightly eccentric body where,


when you leave government having been in a senior job,


you have to get their permission in theory before you take


If you disobey them, there is literally nothing


It's hidden, you don't really understand how it works.


They don't unfortunately give you straight answers


to straight questions so, when I went through the process,


I asked them, would I be able to come in and see government


They will not answer questions of that sort.


Which covers their back because, if you put your foot in it,


they will be able to say you broke the rules.


But you're never really told quite what the rules are.


The voluntary nature of Acoba is a particular problem.


48 senior special advisers have left government since December 2014,


but there are published Acoba approvals for just 14.


Jobs are not the only part of an ex-minister's life


Today we learned Gordon Brown is releasing a memoir.


Perhaps surprisingly, there is actually a rule book that


governs what ex-ministers are allowed to put


into their memoirs, the so-called Radcliffe rules.


They can really be boiled down to three principles.


The first is, don't publish anything that damages national security.


The second principle is, don't publish anything that


would damage our relations with other states.


The third principle, though, is a bit odder.


It states that ex-ministers shouldn't criticise any of the civil


In fact, they also state that ministers shouldn't even name


civil servants who gave them specific advice.


In short, the Radcliffe rules basically get in the way


of ex-ministers scrutinising their former departments.


This country does have a revolving door problem in a variety


of sectors, but we should worry as much about middle


ranking officials who slip into the companies they are supposed


to be regulating as we do about ex-ministers.


And we're back with Tom Newton Dunn and Polly Mackenzie.


Tom, is there anything wrong with a man who was Chancellor less than a


year ago, who is still an MP, working for the biggest fund manager


in the world and getting a lot of money for four days of work? That is


a loaded question! Look, it stinks totally. George Osborne will make


the argument that immersing himself in what he would call the real


world, actual business, decision-making and hedge funds is,


informs his ability as an MP to contribute to the public debate.


Personally, I think by simply accepting a ?650,000 per year job


for four days a month, ?30,000 per day, what he is saying is, I now


know I will never be Prime Minister, because nobody would accept him with


something like that. If it brings some expertise to his field, I would


not want to stop it. It is not exactly a new issue. Ever since big


business, MPs, prime ministers, chancellors have all gone into the


private sector. Yes, but I think it's different once you have left


government and parliament and you are just a private citizen. What is


strange about this for me is George Osborne's priorities. He's got a


constituency to represent, a job to do, and he is prioritising jetting


around the world, receiving awards from the Americans, earning ?13,500


per day. For me, it is about the principle of having a job in


Parliament and the juicy details. Wood he did say that this week is


not a bad snapshot of my life. On Monday, I was in New York accepting


a Kissinger Fellowship. On Wednesday, I was in the Commons


speaking about Europe Nato, you can join me in Knutsford in my


constituency. This seems a very quick to spend my time and hopefully


make a contribution to our national life. Fair to say that George


Osborne believes passionately in this northern partnership and, if


you can bring money from whoever, that is good, isn't it? He has a


great lifestyle, but it is all about him and not really about its


constituents. But he would accept that there is life after parliament


but not, as far as you are concerned one they are still getting an MP


salary. It is about time. If you are an MP and you want to spend an


afternoon earning ?13,000 to be not being there, doing something else


with relevance to being an MP, fine. If you are spending four and a half


days jetting to New York, giving speeches in Berlin and then in some


hedge funds of this in the city, is wrong. You should be looking after


your constituents. What about the argument that a lot of people in


parliament could earn a lot more money outside but they choose to


deny themselves a bigger salary than 78,000, so it is acceptable when you


leave office to augment that salary, and that is the way you get a flow


of people into Parliament with greater ambition? You only allow a


new flow of people if you allow the bed blockers, those who have been


Cabinet ministers, to get out of the way. You don't catch people on


?78,000. Look at some of the talent in parliament and you think, we


could probably do better than that. I would probably take a close look


at how much time they are spending in the building doing the job they


are elected to do. They need performance related pay.


Time now for Viewsnight, the part of the programme that actively seeks


argument and dissent, often from surprising places.


So today, when the latest Ipsos Mori STV poll puts support


for Scottish independence at 50%, and Nicola Sturgeon talks


about the commonsense timing of another independence referendum,


here's Richard Dawkins's trenchant view of plebiscites.


Watch this space for more Brexit views.


French actress Isabelle Huppert received her first Oscar nomination


this year for a film that, according to Huppert herself,


The controversy around Elle - which won two Golden Globes


and which opens tomorrow - centres on a horrifically violent


attack and vicious rape which is revisited graphically


during the film, along with further sexual attacks,


and the unusual and shocking way that the woman who is


Elle is the explosive result of the collaboration


between the fearless, often transgressive actress


and the Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, he of Basic Instinct


The thriller-cum-black comedy tests the viewer to the limits.


In a moment, we'll be discussing whether such


a narrative is anti-feminist, or whether we need to accept


a complex, often unpalatable truth that, for some,


extreme violence is part and parcel of sex.


But first - spoiler alert - here are some scenes from the film,


Michele Leblanc starts to track down her attacker


but doesn't go to the police, mainly because of the notoriety


Her father was a psychopath who killed more than 20 people


and who was unmasked when Michele was just ten years old.


As the film unfolds, we have the unsettling


sense that she could be luring her attacker to identify


him or to kill him - or because, in some way,


she is intrigued, even turned on by him.


Well, Newsnight took two women to watch the film -


Polly Neate, chief executive of the group Womens' Aid,


Good evening. Is it important to have such a complex expression of


rape as this and the impact of it? I think it is important to show how


Watmore Neumann -- how one woman's life is completely framed every


angle by male violence. Her father, her lover, by male violence and


entitlement, her lover does not take no for an answer albeit in not in a


physically violent way, and she is raped. But the extreme complexity of


her life means it's very difficult to generalise from her reaction to


what is an horrific assault. Ahead of it there is such controversy and


yet it is important to have a complex view of rape. That is true,


and it is conceded that she grew up with this violent father, but I felt


very much it was an act of bad faith. All this effort put into


creating the female character who wanted to be raped. That is quite an


extreme position. Not really, because if you look at the structure


of the film, and I allowed to spoil it? You can take a couple of things.


She seeks out the situation in which she is going to be raped because she


knows in the rapist is and she gets into the situation with the rapist.


The creative drive is, this person, we have gone to a very deliberated


place where this person for this reason and this reason wants to be


the victim of rape. That may be your interpretation but the point surely


is that what we have is an expression of damage in many ways


and the idea that we should not just see a woman who has been raped as a


victim. This is about an attempt to take some kind of control. I felt


the film to a very great extent was about control. Talking about her


being assailed by male violence at every... Even in her own business


where she is the boss, her much more junior and younger male employees


are still abusing her and harassing her. I don't agree it is an


empowering narrative. It is exploitative of the viewer, it


basically takes all your human empathy, your understanding, the way


you would say, nobody has a right to legislate for the way another woman


feels, nobody has the right to get another woman is feeling to it takes


your sensibilities and uses them to submit you to repeated acts of


sexual violence against a woman. I felt that the main character and all


the women in the film actually, what they are exhibited towards the male


characters was this mix of incredible frustration, anger and a


level of disdain. I felt what it showed was a really toxic society in


which male violence and entitlement on the one hand... Can accept, even


the idea, she was looking for it, which is some of the narrative is


you get, rather you might say that for some people clearly violent sex


is a turn on. Sure, I have no problem with that is the premise for


a film, no problem with the exploration of a character's


sexuality as the premise for anything but I think this was used


instrumentally... For gods you have somebody raped and repeatedly in


flashbacks every five minutes and then again by the same person three


more times so of course it was gratuitous. But she is imagining


different outcomes and I think that is quite interesting, and she will


be able to attack him back. I felt she was struggling for some control


and an opportunity to attack him back. I'm sure it was ever realistic


that would happen and I felt -- I'm not sure. I felt it painted a


society where there was a veneer of wealth, style, that Parisian


elegance but within that still male violence... To be fair, Isabella


Bird said she read the book and wanted it to be put on film and


wanted to do it -- Isabelle Huppert. Does it tell the viewer something


about the possibilities of a real life rape situation? I don't think


you can generalise anything from the reaction to rape of any woman, any


single woman and particularly of somebody with the level of trauma...


Isn't that exactly the point? You are invited into this territory


where your own ecumenical sense of everybody having a right to the own


response did leverage against it in a moral relativism. We are not


allowed to say, yet again the brutalising of the woman is used...


Do you think it is antifeminist? Could have been a comedy of manners,


it didn't brag but it did not have much momentum and there were times


when I thought, this could go on all week. -- it didn't drag. I thought


the rape was being used as a way of forcing the plot forward. It didn't


drag for me, I did find it quite disturbing and I was quite chilled


by it. I felt it portrayed a very complex reaction to a society in


which the one hand you are assailed by male violence and entitlement and


on the other hand women are in a state of anger and almost disdain


towards men. Where do we from there? Thank you very much indeed.


The painter Howard Hodgkin, who died today at the age of 84,


was described by the late Seamus Heaney as "the force that


through the green fuse drives the flower" -


In his very English way, Sir Howard suffered for his art.


His emotions were extraordinarily close to the surface, and his vivid,


seemingly abstract paintings were attempts to capture


He won the Turner Prize and his works could sell


But he always insisted that he hated painting.


Sir Howard, who was 84, gave one of his last interviews


to our Culture Editor, Stephen Smith, who looks back


The artist who suffers for his work is a well worn trope


but Sir Howard Hodgkin gave it a dryly humorous gloss.


Surely such vivid and life affirming paintings as his


I hate the act of painting, I always have done.


People have said to me so often, amateur painters, aren't you lucky


I may be lucky with the result but having to go through the horrors


of painting a picture is not something I ever look forward to.


His canvases, or rather boards, sometimes brooded over for years,


were attempts to capture emotions he felt in certain places and times.


Good luck getting him to explain further.


If I had the temerity to ask you what prompted that


picture, you would give me an old-fashioned look essentially.


India held great fascination for Hodgkin and was a big


The impressions were stored up and dwelt on back in the studio,


a converted dairy opposite the British Museum in London.


And there are lots of walls for me to stare at and...


Our viewers shouldn't get the impression that you're staring


at them bereft of inspiration, quite the reverse, is that right?


Absolutely right, and it's simply so that I can continually readjust


I used to make drawings, do all sorts of obvious things.


And now I just get in there and do it, partly because I can feel time's


winged chariot behind me all the time.


It's been a great plus knowing that my days are numbered but...


Many of us suffer a deterioration of our eyesight as we get older.


That's of course particularly troubling for a painter,


I've been completely spared it but I think that other things have


Is that a fair exchange, would you say?


Sir Howard Hodgkin, whose death was announced today.


Just before we go, what do you get if you cross the French


urban sport of Parkour and the iconic opening scene


The Scottish freerunner Robbie Griffith decided to find out.


Choose good health, low cholesterol and personal well-being.


Choose an invigorated sense of self-worth.


Choose to defy Newton's laws of motion.


Choose to be breathless, tackling the obstacles


Choose to travel, explore, creating experiences.


Choose a mind-stimulating, physically strengthening pursuit


that gets your heart pumping like never before.


We saw spring sunshine across many parts of the country on Thursday.


Friday brings us rather more cloud, but many places staying dry.


With Kirsty Wark. The Government is under pressure over the National Insurance hike. Plus, George Osborne's new job, Richard Dawkins on Brexit, Howard Hodgkin remembered and what can the French film Elle tell us about rape?

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