As the whole thing has now become so bewildering I thought I’d devote some of this week’s column inches (or is that centimetres?) to a simple guide for anyone with sufficient stamina to still register an interest in Brexit.

Let us say we are seven friends who joined a choir some years ago and are now discussing leaving to start our own choral society.

After some consideration we decide to take a vote and abide by the outcome as we want to stick together.

The majority vote is leave and that is what we intend to do but as we still owe some subscription money one of us (let’s call her Audrey) agrees to work out a deal with the choir leader and get back to us.

We don’t see her for two years until she turns up saying she’s sorted it but we have to pay our old choirmaster £50K to leave and must in future only sing his tunes.

As the whole purpose of leaving was to sing our own tunes we ask Audrey what the hell has she been doing for two years? Audrey asks us for more time to ‘negotiate’ during which sadly one of our members dies, another has an operation on his vocal chords and can no longer sing, two move overseas and another couple fall in love, marry, have twins and now have no time to do anything but yawn.

Audrey is still negotiating on behalf of herself but has so far been unable to agree a deal.

Our old choirmaster is jubilant as he doesn’t want anyone to leave and with the amount of cash he’s pocketing from the members who can blame him.

I hope that clears it up for you.


With exactly two weeks to go before the May 2 local elections another suspended Cheshire East senior executive heads for the exit.

Peter Bates, former chief operating officer at Cheshire East Council, stepped down from his role after being suspended from the local authority since December 2017.

While the council leader refused a request by Labour leader Sam Corcoran to reveal the full amount paid to Mr Bates on his departure according to CEC’s 2017-18 statement of accounts, he earned a salary of £138,013 plus a pension contribution of £41,941 and expenses of £79 over the course of the year.

‘How much longer must we pay for this?’ is the most common response I hear from irate taxpayers, and if you are one of those you now have your answer...two weeks.

On that date, you will have complete control of Cheshire East Council.

You can vote Tory and ensure more of the same or vote for change by casting your vote elsewhere. What you cannot do is not vote. A no vote will almost certainly lead to a repeat of what you already have.

Cheshire East Council does not elect itself. We do that with our votes and we will get the council we deserve, as we shall very quickly find out after the election.

If you want to vote for the party that has six ongoing police investigations, who used ‘deliberately manipulated’ air pollution data in planning applications, suspended three of its own senior executives, blew almost £3 million on the Lyme Green fiasco plus another £2.8 million in 11 months running a failed company (in conjunction with Cheshire West and Chester Council), you are at liberty to do so.

But maybe – just maybe – you want to think about it. There will be a full card of runners on May 2 including 37 independents in the mix.

Albert Einstein famously said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result Mr Einstein was no dummy.


Once every couple of years I take part in a variety show for charity. It’s great fun but Mrs B gets nervous each time it comes round.

“So what ridiculous idea have you got this time?” she asked me last week as I was heading out to rehearsals.

“Oh, not much really, I just wrote a couple of silly songs with Nigel (guitarist),” I replied nonchalantly.

“Please tell me you’re not going to dress up in something stupid again. I have to sit in the audience and take the flak.”

“No problem it’s just a couple of songs and a bit of audience banter that’s all.”

“So no idiotic outlandish costumes this time then?”

“Absolutely not.”

“No embarrassing songs about councillors, potholes or Cheshire East either?”


“You won’t make fun of the vicar will you.”

“What do you take me for?”

“And you’re definitely not going to tell any rude jokes about the size of my knickers are you?”

“Good grief it’s nearly half-past...time I was gone.”

By Guardian columnist Vic Barlow