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In defence of pocket money

Our grandchildren are penniless. They have pretty much everything their hearts desire and they have parents with wallets full of plastic, but they lack the satisfying chink of coins in a jam jar. I was alerted to this state of affairs when one of our tribe turned nine and I asked his mother how much

Revealed: Boris’s blueprint for Brexit

For the first time since the referendum, the United Kingdom has a strong government that knows what it wants from Brexit. This will make the second round of the negotiations with the EU very different from the first. Theresa May famously declared, and repeated, that ‘Brexit means Brexit’. This was a soundbite designed to conceal

Is there method – or madness – behind Trump’s actions in Iraq?

Leaders are often accused of escalating a conflict abroad in order to distract from headaches at home. On Tuesday, before Iran’s missiles were fired, Donald Trump seemed to be doing the opposite. He and his media surrogates started their now all-too-familiar yabbering about impeachment and the Democrats. It felt as if they were trying to

Britain after Brexit: it’s time to decide on our place in the world

‘Global Britain’: a phrase that provokes mockery and even indignation. As an alternative to EU membership many consider it impossible and worse, undesirable. Are we capable of true independence, or is this an illusion? Does ‘global Britain’, as its bitterest critics accuse, draw on imperial nostalgia and nationalistic arrogance? Or is it a rational response

Fight fire with fire: controlled burning could have protected Australia

 Sydney By modern standards, my grandfather would probably be considered an environmental criminal. To clear land for his farmhouse in north-eastern Victoria — and for his milking sheds, pig pens, chicken sheds, blacksmith shop and other outbuildings — he cleared hundreds of trees. And he cleared thousands more for his wheat fields, cattle paddocks and

My clash with Cameron

MPs have a standard approach to political biographies, which falls into three phases: first, preliminary gossip about what will or won’t (always a lot more interesting) be in it; second, mildly salacious enjoyment of the usually tepid leaks and excerpts in the press beforehand; and third, once the book comes out, the inevitable furtive rummaging


Ben Schott: I’m Tony Blair’s brother (according to Google)

The globe (Golden and otherwise) has rightly fallen h-o-h for Olivia Colman who, before The Crown, The Favourite and Peep Show, had an early role as Bev in the ‘Bev-Kev’ ads for AA insurance. But I was there at the very beginning, when she starred opposite her husband-to-be in a 1995 Cambridge production of Alan Ayckbourn’s Table Manners,

Notes on...

The faded charm of the Isle of Wight

I was worried my first trip to the Isle of Wight might be too late. These days, a holiday island would surely be no more than fanciful tearooms with hardening scones and flashing arcades. But alighting from the ferry at Ryde, I not only stepped into another place, but another time. It may not be