The UK has been bogged down by Brexit for over three years and the public is increasingly sick of hearing about it.
But this week in Britain, there’s only one story in town: Prince Andrew’s excruciating interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis about his relationship with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
The fascination in the story is understandable and the allegations, of course, are very serious. A man with the power and influence of the Queen’s son giving such glib answers in an interview that he’d agreed to is a huge story and merits extensive coverage.
However, it’s hard not to look at everything in the context of the UK’s election. Ever since the campaign started, both Boris Johnson and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn have been trying to avoid talking in detail about the single most important issue facing the country today — Brexit.
Instead, this campaign has been mostly dominated by hit jobs on rival candidates and both main parties pledging to shower the nation in cash, without giving much detail on where the money would actually come from.
Normally, election campaigns are a time when leaders and candidates want as much coverage as possible to sell their vision for the country to the nation.
But with both parties slinging so much mud at one another, Corbyn and Johnson may well be content to see this royal scandal dominate coverage for a few days, if not the rest of the week. That’s especially true in a week that’s expected to see the launch of party manifestos — traditionally the time when policy pledges are pulled apart by experts.
It’s almost inevitable that both men will be asked questions about the Andrew story when they face one another in a face-to-face debate on Tuesday. In that respect, the prince has thrown a fire blanket on both Brexit and the election campaign. And, it seems, the public are entirely happy to be distracted from the nation’s Brexit fatigue.