The Spectator

16 March 2019

It’s not over yet

Extending Brexit could revive May’s deal



Meltdown: three years on and we are no closer to a Brexit resolution

No one is in control and the country’s whole system of governance is creaking


How likely is an imminent general election?

The jury’s out, but many MPs think it's time for another vote


The way to change anti-vaccine campaigners’ minds

They may be dangerous, but anti-vaxxers still just want to protect their children

Confrontation between a soldier and an IRA suspect, 30 January 1972


The case for prosecuting Bloody Sunday ‘Soldier F’

The soldiers of 1 Para weren’t just unapologetic killers, but unrelenting liars


Never Mind The Bollocks: a punk’s view of Brexit

And on being back on the road with a new band


Who could have predicted tarot cards would be back in vogue?

It seems like every person I meet is now a tarot reader or astrologer


What happened when an innocent Christian preacher was accused of Islamophobia?

Why was Oluwole Ilesanmi carted off the streets of London in handcuffs?

The ruins of Carbury Castle, Co. Kildare

Notes on...

The unique, bittersweet beauty of Irish ruins

The Celtic Tiger has come and gone. Over the past 30 years, billions of pounds poured into Irish houses and…

Economic Disruptor Award, In association with Julius Baer

Creativity at the cutting edge of science

The Spectator’s Economic Disruptor of the Year Awards 2019, sponsored by Julius Baer, are now open: the entry form is…

The Week

Leading article

The Tories are squandering the opportunity of Brexit

In all the madness of the Brexit voting, it’s easy to forget that Philip Hammond revealed a mini-Budget this week. Even…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: government defeat, the spring statement and a fatal airplane crash

Home The government was defeated by 149 votes — 391 to 242 — on the EU withdrawal agreement presented by…


George Osborne: My campaign to Make Hancock Great Again

The best thing about the Evening Standard going to print at lunchtime is that we can be first to a…


Will no-deal Brexit fears lead to cheaper flights?

Cox’s codpiece Attorney general Geoffrey Cox returned from Brussels without even a ‘codpiece’, the name used by some Tories for…

Ancient and modern

As the Romans knew, eternal life is hopeless without eternal youth

A research professor has pointed out that lengthening human lifespan threatens to turn us into living zombies unless we can…


Letters: the UK shouldn’t have approved the text of Article 50

Turn it off and on again Sir: The conclusion of your leading article of 9 March (‘Close the deal’) that…


The Spectator's Notes

Leadership requires imagination, but Theresa May has never displayed any

I had forgotten, until I checked this week, that Mrs May timed the general election of June 2017 in order…


How bad is the Democrats' anti-Semitism problem?

 Washington, DC Republican strategists have long complained about how, every election, the Democrats mobilise minority groups against them. Now they’re…

Rod Liddle

Why I’ve joined the SDP (and why you should, too)

I was down the pub with my wife last week, out in the tiny smoking section, when a woman with…

Matthew Parris

What you learn standing on a street corner in Beirut

A pale sun had emerged from wintry clouds and the hillsides were topped snowy white. But all around me was…

Lionel Shriver

Forgive the IRA and we must forgive the Bloody Sunday soldiers too

In my 2010 short story ‘Prepositions’, a woman has lost her husband not in 9/11 but on 9/11 — when…

Any other business

What shares would a post-Brexit ‘Optimist Fund’ include?

The nation certainly needs optimism this week, so what better moment to start building our ‘UK Optimist Fund’ of shares…


The seducer and the spy: left, a reproduction of Anatoly Gorpenko’s portrait of the ‘master spy’;above, a Soviet commemorative stamp to mark Sorge’s ‘rehabilitation’ in 1961

Lead book review

Richard Sorge: the Soviet Union’s master spy

Owen Matthews on the colourful life of a Stalin-era secret agent

Saint Patrick, apostle of Ireland


Who was the real St Patrick: an evangelist or a tax dodger?

Roy Flechner scrutinises the apostle of Ireland

A late developer, like her central character: Tessa Hadley at the Edinburgh International Literary Festival


The subversive, Austenesque wit of ‘Late in the Day’, by Tessa Hadley

It may be middle-class and middle-aged, but it’s still a great novel

Few knew the full extent of the hostilities in the Teebee/Geebee camps


The uphill task of judging whether Tony Blair was a villain or hero

Blair and Brown come under the spotlight in this fascinating retrospective

Novel number 8: has Dave Eggers finally found his voice?


Has Dave Eggers finally found his voice?

His latest novel, The Parade, reviewed


All the world’s a stage: Luwam Teklizgi (Rita) and Toby Jones (Peter) in BBC2’s forthcoming Don’t Forget the Driver

Arts feature

Toby Jones on the allure of the everyman – and the glamour of coach-driving

The actor talks to Steve Morris about his latest BBC role as a coach driver from Bognor Regis

Soft cell: ‘Hôtel du Pavot, Chambre 202’, 1970–73, by Dorothea Tanning


Wicked, humorous and high-spirited: Dorothea Tanning at Tate Modern reviewed

Plus: why the Celts are better at surrealism than the buttoned up English


Scala Radio is a real threat to Radio 2

Plus: the importance of doubt and why we crave the sound of the human voice


Still far from perfect but chaps will like it: Royal Ballet’s Frankenstein reviewed

Plus: Richard Alston offers up the super, soporific and meh at Sadler’s Wells


Almost triumphs over the absurdity of its premise: Northern Ballet’s Victoria reviewed

The young Queen begins one scene with her legs wrapped around the groom like a sex-starved koala


Deft humour and daft imagery: WNO’s Magic Flute reviewed

Plus: the superb performances in ETO’s Idomeneo is yet another reminder of the home-grown singers ENO should be celebrating


Slow-moving tale with a strong echo of Brideshead: Alys, Always at the Bridge reviewed

Plus: a sensational Broadway import at the Adelphi that feels like it’s in the West End for keeps

Colin Morgan as Benjamin and Phénix Brossard as Noah in Simon Amstell’s Benjamin


Tender, sweet, affecting: Simon Amstell’s Benjamin reviewed

The stand-up’s debut film is all about him – but there's nothing wrong with that


High life

The four times I have lied in 42 years writing this column

Gstaad   As Emperor Maximilian told his convulsed-by-tears servants as he was about to be executed by the Mexicans: ‘Who…

Low life

The travesties competing in the Terrier category at Crufts

Does the BBC suppose that it will convert the public to a belief in equality if it does not, in…

Real life

From a solar-powered bin to HS2: the destruction of my childhood home

My mother is a classy lady. I have always known this, but it still affected me in a way I…

The turf

While some bookies behave admirably, the BetBright debacle is a disgrace

Encountering a generous-hearted bookmaker is normally as rare an occurrence as finding a picture of the Duchess of Sussex without…



James Vogl excelled at poker and backgammon and thought, like many of us, that when he took up bridge about…

Spectator Wine

Wine Club 16 March

My old chum Jason Yapp is never less than chipper. Indeed, his ebullience is boundless. In springtime, this innate effervescence…


Oxford win

The annual Varsity Match between Oxford and Cambridge ended in a surprisingly narrow victory for the dark blues. Their team…

Chess puzzle

no. 545

White to play. This is from Finn-Abbas, Varsity Match 2019. A strategic puzzle rather than a tactical one. White has…


Climate change

In Competition No. 3089 you were invited to put your own spin on a weather forecast.   The seed for…


2399: Lines of work

Eight unclued entries (two of two words, one hyphened) form a folk rhyme used as the basis for the first…

Crossword solution

to 2396: Reader …,

Unclued lights were husbands (40A) of Jane Austen’s heroines.  First prize Alison Hinder, Sholing, SouthamptonRunners-up Janet Dibley, Polegate, East Sussex;…

No sacred cows

Why is it only privately educated women who get to lecture people about ‘oppression’?

Scarcely a week passes without a privately educated young woman with a successful career in journalism publishing a book about…

The Wiki Man

Are IQ tests really the best way to measure nature vs nurture?

I have a dim memory from 1970 of a primly dressed distant relative visiting in a Baby Austin. This, I…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: what’s the polite way to ascertain someone's gender?

Q. When my mother was widowed ten years ago she decided to take in lodgers to pay the gardener’s bills…


Red meat and red wine: the ideal way to spend the first Sunday of Lent

Life is far too important to be taken seriously. At least, that was the conclusion which we meandered towards as…

Mind your language

Why the OED says ‘coloured’ is offensive

‘The term coloured, is an outdated, offensive and revealing choice of words,’ tweeted Diane Abbott last week in response to Amber…

The Best of Coffee House

The Brexiteers have blown it

If, as Rod Liddle says, Brexit has been killed there is no shortage of suspects. 75 of them, in fact.…

The Best of Coffee House

The false equivalence between ‘Islamophobia’ and anti-Semitism

I have been travelling in the Middle East for the last few weeks and slightly regret returning to the maelstrom…

The Best of Coffee House

The death of Shamima Begum’s baby is a tragedy – but not Sajid Javid’s fault

It would take a heart of stone – and occasionally I possess just such an organ – not to feel…