Many of those present struggled to make their voices heard. Photograph: Raphael Gray
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The Ballad Of Not Reading In Gaol: Carol Ann Duffy and others declaim for prisoners' rights

A report from today’s Howard League protest.

Is justice secretary Chris Grayling a philistine? The Howard League for Penal Reform thinks so. The campaign group held a protest today outside HMP Pentonville to oppose his ban on the sending of books and other small items to British inmates.

The crowd  mostly journalists  gathered on the Caledonian Road at 2.30 pm. Howard League chief executive Frances Crook explained that we had assembled “to celebrate books, to celebrate literature”. A parade of worthies proceeded to read snatches of poetry in a show of defiance against the government. Headliner Carol Anne Duffy, the poet laureate, was a disappointment; her words did not exactly ring above the noise of the street and the clack of massed camera shutters. In fact, little of the verse soared, even in the mouths of those reading Wordsworth and Shelly. But Samuel West’s thunderous performance of a Mark Hurst ditty called “50 Shades of Grayling” at least had the virtue of being funny: “Less likely to give the nonces a shankin’ if your missus sends you the new Ian Rankin”.

The arguments voiced were straightforward but powerful. Books are a right, a tool for self-improvement. A. L. Kennedy spoke eloquently of her time spent working in an unnamed prison, where a weekly writers' group had helped stave off madness. She called books “spiritual food”. They preserve minds in institutions that work to destroy them, especially when they fall into the hands of private companies.

Shutters clacked faster when actress Vanessa Redgrave took centre stage. She read a poem of her own and a verse of “Imagine” by John Lennon. Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights campaign group Liberty, called Grayling a “spiteful and disgusting” man through a loudhailer.

The activists took it for granted that righteousness was on their side, but some residents of Islington disagreed. “They don’t deserve it”, shouted a man in a white van.

Crook brought proceedings to a close after thirty minutes. The crowd had been slowly closing around her all afternoon, prompting some of the photographers and camera operators to exchange words as they jostled for space. When dismissed, the journalists broke rank and pushed towards the speakers for comment.

The Howard League wants to force a government u-turn. Grayling says that won’t happen. But the longer his prison book ban stays in the news, the more isolated the minister will become.

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Nigel Farage's exclusive Brexit plan has just been revealed and it's very telling

The panic is over.

If, a week on from Brexit, you're staring at the bottom of your gin bottle and wondering whether you'll ever afford to go on holiday again, then stop worrying. 

There's a plan.

Social media users have been sharing a link to an exclusive reveal of Nigel Farage's plan for the UK departure from the EU. Users are invited to: "View The Brexit Plan that was but together by the Vote Leave campaign, UKIP and Nigel Farage.

Here it is.

Highlighted policy topics include hot potatoes like UK access to the single market, international trade agreements and the rights of EU nationals working in the UK. You just have to click on the red button.

 

Oh. 

It seems the plan might be permanently out of reach. 

Every time you try to click on the red button with your mouse, you'll discover that it leaps away to another part of the page. So far, we haven't heard of anyone who has managed to catch the elusive button and discover the details of the brilliant plan. 

Other plans that have not been very easy to click on this week include: Boris Johnson's plan to be Prime Minister, Jeremy Corbyn's plan to lead a unified Labour opposition and David Cameron's plan to win the EU referendum in the first place.

As it turns out, a week after Brexit we are still waiting for a definitive plan. In the meantime, you can read: