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Private Eye puts the proverbial boot into our 'Calamity Karen'

Karen Bradley
Karen Bradley
Ivan Little

By Ivan Little

Private Eye has launched a withering attack on Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley who, it said, had been dubbed "Calamity Karen" by her Westminster colleagues.

In its latest issue the satirical magazine also ridiculed Mrs Bradley's acceptance "despite the demands of her brief" of thousands of pounds worth of free tickets for football matches, pop concerts and Alton Towers theme park.

The publication claimed that amid the Stormont stalemate, "the squabbling political parties were at least on the same page when it comes to the competence, or lack thereof, of Karen Bradley".

The article said Mrs Bradley had been talked up on her appointment here as Mo Mowlam II, but in her 18 months in office she had secured the opposite sort of legacy to the late Labour Secretary of State.

It went on: "Countless rounds of talks aimed at restoring the devolved Assembly have failed, public services are starved of cash, and survivors of institutional abuse are literally dying without the compensation they were promised before the last power-sharing Executive collapsed in January 2017."

The magazine, edited by Have I Got News For You TV star Ian Hislop, said the problems here could be "fixed at a stroke if only Bradley - Calamity Karen to colleagues - heeded the increasingly desperate calls from just about everyone to legislate from Westminster".

Private Eye said Mrs Bradley was "blighted by a terminal lack of imagination". And it added: "She sticks to the same excuse, both at the despatch box and on the rare occasions she submits herself to scrutiny by the media: 'The issues are devolved so I can't sort them out'."

The magazine claimed that, constitutionally, her line was "nonsense" and was convincing nobody.

It said that the latest round of power-sharing talks, convened after the murder of journalist Lyra McKee, appeared to be going nowhere.

"But far from changing her approach Bradley - with typically shrewd judgment - thought celebrating its failure would be a much better idea," added the magazine, which related how the Secretary of State invited Assembly Members to a drinks bash "in a bid to lighten the mood" but was promptly turned down by every party here.

The magazine put a value of £8,000 on the tickets to football games, pop concerts and Alton Towers that Mrs Bradley enjoyed in her first 10 months after being appointed as Secretary of State in January 2018.

And it said she had received another £2,620 worth of corporate football tickets this year alone.

It added: "Her exasperated interlocutors on both sides of the Irish Sea mutter that spending less time at Wembley and more at Stormont might help."

The Secretary of State has declared all the hospitality on the Westminster register of interests.

The magazine predicted that Mrs Bradley's departure from the Government was imminent.

But during his visit to Belfast earlier this week Tory leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt said he would keep Mrs Bradley in the Northern Ireland job if he became the next PM.

His rival Boris Johnson declined to say if he would appoint Mrs Bradley as his Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he moved into Downing Street.

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