Read about the latest UK political news, views and analysis.

Katy Balls

Sunak under pressure to curb legal migration

Rishi Sunak goes into the week on the defensive over legal migration. After figures late last week revealed net migration hit a record 750,000 in the year to December 2022, the Prime Minister is under pressure from his own side to act. This afternoon James Cleverly will address the House where he is expected to lay out a series of proposals the government is considering. As is becoming a trend, Sunak’s former home secretary Suella Braverman has taken the opportunity to accuse her old boss of doing too little. Right on cue, today’s Telegraph reports that it has seen ‘a copy of the pact’ between Braverman and Sunak when she

Is the war of the Windsors about to blow up again?

The name ‘Omid Scobie’ must be one of the least popular ever uttered in Buckingham and St James Palaces. Not only was the royal reporter’s bestselling 2020 book Finding Freedom a firmly partisan account of Harry and Meghan’s quasi-abdication – and, it later transpired in court, assisted by someone close to the Duchess, so that her ‘true position…could be communicated to the authors to prevent any further misrepresentation’ – but now the man known, without affection, as ‘Meghan’s mouthpiece’ has returned with another certain-to-be-controversial book. Entitled Endgame – probably not a reference to the Samuel Beckett play – Scobie has stated that the book is not designed to be a

Rosie Duffield’s opponents are intent on destroying her

Rosie Duffield is a national treasure but try telling that to the trans rights mob. When Duffield won the seat of Canterbury in 2017, she became the constituency’s first Labour MP for 99 years. She has used her position to speak up for women’s rights, most notably during a powerful and moving speech in parliament in the Domestic Abuse Bill debate in 2019. As two feminists campaigning to end the tyranny of men’s violence towards women and girls, we soon struck up a friendship. Yet her decision to fight for women’s rights has landed her in hot water. Duffield understands all too well that for women and children escaping domestic


Yousaf’s ‘cack-handed’ council tax freeze flops

It’s another week of rancour and recrimination in the SNP’s unhappy family. Today it’s the turn of rebel backbencher Fergus Ewing. Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland this morning, the born-and-bred nationalist hit out at his own party’s ’somewhat cack-handed’ handling of their proposed council tax freeze, bemoaning how there ‘was no proper consultation with our colleagues in local government.’ Talk about cracks in the once-impregnable SNP front…  It comes three weeks before the Scottish government is due to unveil its winter budget. With money tight and the polls plummeting, Humza Yousaf’s bungling band of bureaucrats has stumbled on the answer: blame the Tories. Yousaf’s deputy Shona Robison was out on


SNP drops plans to pardon witches

Ding, dong, the bill is dead. Yes, that’s right: Holyrood’s much-trumpeted plan to pardon witches has now been dropped by the SNP, as the party desperately tries to conjure up something resembling a governing agenda. Around 4,000 Scots accused of being witches were tortured to gain their confessions and executed under the Witchcraft Act between 1563 and 1736. Legislation to pardon them was introduced last year by Natalie Don, a backbench nationalist. But her decision to join Humza Yousaf’s government leaves her bill without a sponsor. A Scottish Government spokesman told the Times drily that ‘Ministers have no plans to legislate in this area.’ Still, a solution may be offered

Is a national Holocaust memorial still a good idea?

Whatever the fate of the ceasefire and hostage exchange between Israel and Hamas, the latest conflict in the Middle East is reverberating far beyond the region. Recent weeks have seen hundreds of thousands of people march through European and American cities in support of either side. Flag-waving protesters were out in London again this weekend: pro-Palestinians on Saturday, those against anti-Semitism on Sunday.   In London, though, it is not just on the streets where this conflict is resonating. It is sharpening a dispute that has simmered for the best part of eight years over plans to construct a national Holocaust memorial and learning centre in a small park adjacent to

Sam Leith

The evolving phenomenon of ‘Brexit regret’

It was reported this weekend that the great trans-Pacific trade deal (CPTPP), the one that Lord Cameron just boasted would ‘put the UK at the heart of a group of some of the world’s most dynamic economies’, will boost our economy by practically nothing at all. The OBR reckons CPTPP will put 0.04 per cent on our GDP over fifteen years. The bilateral deals with Australia and New Zealand, meanwhile, are predicted to give a 0.1 per cent uplift. This is better, but still, hardly the piratical free trade bonanza we were encouraged to expect. A gold-plated special-friends deal with the USA shows no signs of materialising. To what extent

Dublin is a city on the edge

At 1.30 p.m. last Thursday, a horrific knife attack was perpetrated outside a school on Parnell Street in Dublin’s north inner city. Three children and an adult female were viciously stabbed by the attacker who has now been confirmed to be an Algerian male who acquired Irish citizenship and has been living in the country for the last 20 years. Both the attacker and his four victims have been hospitalised. One of those victims, a 5 year old girl, remains in a critical condition, while her female carer, who tried to stop the knifeman, remains in the Mater hospital. If it wasn’t the horrifying knife attack on Thursday that set

Jake Wallis Simons

The stakes are high at London’s anti-Semitism march

Whether Muslim, Jewish, Christian or atheist – and whatever your nationality – there is ample reason to stand up to the death cult that has worn the face of Al Qaeda, Islamic State and Hamas. We’ve had suicide bombs of our own in Manchester and London. We’ve also had our fair share of beheadings and stabbings on our streets. Muslims have, globally, been the biggest victims of jihadist attacks; now is the time for all people of good will to stand against such gratuitous nihilism in the streets of London.  We have seen this already in Israel. On 7 October, up to 70 Arab-Israelis were murdered by the Islamist killers.

The next stage of Israel’s war will be even deadlier

On Friday a four-day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas began, as the first hostages taken by Hamas were released by the terrorist group. Under the deal struck, 50 Israeli women and children will be released in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners, who will be freed over the four-day period. Additionally, the Israeli government said the lull in hostilities will be extended for an additional day for every ten more hostages Hamas releases. In theory, the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas could last until all 240 hostages are released. And some may hope that the complex ceasefire arrangements might lead to an extended truce. But in reality, it is

Opec’s split is good for the West

It largely slipped under the radar, but there was a rare bit of good news for hard-pressed consumers and businesses this week: the next meeting of Opec+, originally scheduled for today, has been pushed back almost a week amidst rumours of splits between its members. Most people struggling with inflation and the cost of living probably don’t look for salvation in the depths of the international and business pages. Few organisations cast a longer shadow over economic life in the West than the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and its tag-alongs in Opec+. Ever since it was first established in 1960, the purpose and mission of this organisation has

Katja Hoyer

Germany’s Reichsbürger movement is anything but a joke

They don’t believe the German state exists, they make their own passports and they want the German monarchy restored. It’s tempting to dismiss the so-called Reichsbürger movement as a bunch of deranged conspiracy theorists. But the movement is growing, increasingly well-connected and willing to use violence to overthrow the state. In their latest crackdown on extremist Reichsbürger circles, the German authorities on Thursday conducted a coordinated raid involving around 280 police officers in eight of the country’s 16 states. They targeted 20 residences, involving people aged between 25 and 74 who are suspected of having formed a group around a 58-year-old Bavarian man. He had been arrested before, in November

Why Russell Norman was a restaurant genius

Polpo, Russell Norman’s celebrated and original Italian restaurant in Soho, was in full flow when I visited for the first time: busy, loud, glasses full and meatballs rolling. I had returned to London after some years away in my early twenties, and had little money. Polpo welcomed diners with its buoyancy and affordability. It was a good restaurant for everyone. Importantly, it was one that we could afford. There is much to say about Norman, a pioneering and visionary restaurateur who died suddenly at the age of 57 on Thursday. I’ll leave the more personal and intimate conversation to those who knew him well. What I want to say is

Patrick O'Flynn

Will Farage return to haunt the Tories?

The rise of Ukip and the highway to Brexit was greatly smoothed by the widespread perception that British governments had lost control of immigration. For many years, we purists in matters of nation-state independence struggled to articulate a stand-alone ‘sovereigntist’ argument that would catch fire with the wider public. But then Tony Blair threw open the UK labour market to millions of workers from the A8 EU accession countries, without even taking advantage of the transitional controls offered to existing member states by Brussels. As enormous numbers of Poles, Slovakians and others came to Britain to compete for working class jobs, suddenly we were in business. It is often forgotten

Why are the Spanish so loyal to the EU?

An upright Englishman, some years after marrying into a Spanish family, finally breaks his cardinal rule. In a moment of sudden daring at an extended family lunch, he challenges the totem of the Spanish renaissance: the Euro. The stunned silence that follows this blasphemy is filled by one of his in-laws: ‘Aha! Just what I expected… I know exactly what you are… You’re an euroescéptico!’ ‘Eh-oo-ro-es-THEP-ti-co’, she repeats slowly, each of the seven syllables a hammer blow to the poor Englishman’s standing. As this scene from the novel Spanish Practices suggests, the Spanish people’s faith in the European Union is often as blind as it is widespread – not a breath of criticism is permitted.

Mark Galeotti

Sanctions against Russia haven’t failed

One of Russia’s toxic TV presenters recently cackled that Western sanctions ‘have only helped Russia wean itself off dependence on foreign imports and given a boost to our own producers’. At a time when Russia’s third quarter growth has actually exceeded expectations, hitting 5.5 per cent, it is worth noting what sanctions can and cannot do. The bottom line is that sanctions have not failed – but were never going to be the silver bullet solution to Kremlin aggression some claimed at the start. As in so many aspects of the West’s response to the 2022 Ukraine invasion, unrealistic early boosterism has led to subsequent, and arguably equally unrealistic, despondency.

Gavin Mortimer

The EU has only itself to blame for Geert Wilders

On the same day that the Dutch went to the polls my teenage daughter went to Strasbourg on a school trip. Once in the EU parliament she and her classmates were given a guided tour by a French MEP; she was charming, by all account, a member of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats. My daughter’s class had their photo taken as a memento of the visit and underneath it was captioned: ‘Europe is important because, together, we can protect our way of life’.   Her class outing was part of an initiative organised by Together.eu, whose slogan is ‘For democracy’. Their mission statement explains that they are ‘dedicated