Big Spider Love: The Brooch That Ate Brexit by Lou Stoppard

On Tuesday, while announcing the British Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had illegally suspended Parliament, Lady Brenda Hale — the court’s first female president — wore a brooding fantastical diamanté spider brooch.

Its exact species was up for debate, though many social media observers thought the animal shape on the left shoulder of her black dress closely resembled the flesh-eating camel spider.

They also thought it was a silent message to Mr. Johnson, a man often seen as unaccustomed to facing consequences for his actions.

“We stan a brooch queen,” wrote Tom Rasmussen, author of “Diary of a Drag Queen,” on Twitter, using social media shorthand for obsessive love.

One particularly imaginative sleuth wondered if Lady Hale, 74, could be referring to “Boris The Spider,” a 1966 song by the Who, the lyrics of which include: “Creepy, creepy, crawly, crawly/ Creepy, creepy, crawly, crawly/ He’s come to a sticky end.”

Others breathed a sigh of relief; this year’s Halloween costume, finally sorted. Within hours, Balcony Shirts, a British T-shirt company, started selling a “Lady Hale Spider Brooch T-shirt,” featuring a silver spider motif.

It was the most heralded use of a brooch in politics since Madeleine K. Albright, the secretary of state under President Bill Clinton. In 2009, she published a book, “Read My Pins: Stories From a Diplomat’s Jewel Box,” and the following year lent more than 200 of her brooches to an exhibition at the Smithsonian Castle.


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