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London in limbo: can the capital survive this crisis?

We should worry about what is happening to London. Our capital is, after all, the country’s economic powerhouse. It accounts for just under a quarter of Britain’s GDP. In fact, three of its now most deserted locations — the City, the West End and Canary Wharf — account collectively for an eighth of the nation’s

Can the new Scottish Tory leader thwart Nicola Sturgeon?

As a boy, Douglas Ross, the new leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party, had two interests: cows and football. Growing up on a dairy farm in Moray, he never aspired to hold political office. He enjoyed the solitude of early morning milking. ‘Some people like big tractors, other people like sheep. I was

Sea change: China has its sights on the Bay of Bengal

Pangong Lake is the most unlikely of places for a naval conflict between two of the world’s nuclear-powers, India and China, with a third, Pakistan, looking on with not a little interest. Lying some 280 miles east of Islamabad, 360 miles north of New Delhi and 2,170 miles west of Beijing, Pangong Lake is in

Dear Boris: what happens if Trump doesn’t accept defeat?

Dear Prime Minister, You already have quite enough on your plate. So forgive me if I hoist a storm cone over another potential problem. I refer to the US presidential election on 3 November and the possibility of its ending in deadlock and confusion. I was the British ambassador to Washington during the Bush/Gore election

Could possession of the Bible become an offence in Scotland?

For the Scottish National party, the phrase ‘nanny state’ is not so much a criticism as an aspiration. This is the party that wanted to assign a state guardian to every child born in Scotland through its ‘named person’ scheme, only to be thwarted by the Supreme Court. Under Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership, there have been


The joy of eating birdseed

Rather like unpacking after a holiday, when you take unworn clothes from the case still neatly folded because the occasion to wear them didn’t arise, unshown film sequences from my travel programmes are carefully edited and stored. The cancellation of this year’s long trip along the Spice Route made us look at these stories again;

Notes on...

The rise and fall of amusement parks

August, as usual, will be the busiest month for Britain’s amusement parks — which is odd when you consider that this will mean thousands of people who have been sitting indoors trying to avoid sickness now lining up for seats expressly designed to induce nausea. There are amusement parks and there are theme parks. The