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The death of the centre in European politics

It’s hard not to feel sorry for Leo Varadkar. He positioned himself as Ireland’s champion and even ended up with a decent deal. He expected some kind of electoral dividend in the snap election as he urged voters to stay away from the dangerous fringes occupied by Sinn Fein. Instead, they turned to Sinn Fein

The government’s plans for a pandemic are both reassuring and alarming

Like the Trumpton fire brigade, Britain’s disaster planners have had precious little opportunity to show off their skills over the past few decades. Plans for a nuclear war merely gathered dust. Global pandemics failed to arrive, as did a no-deal Brexit. Just about the only crisis requiring nationwide emergency planning concerned foot and mouth disease

The Shia Krays: The whole of Iraq is being held to ransom

It’s been only six weeks since the death of the Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, but already there are a number of local hardmen vying to take his place. Most notable are his sidekicks, the Kray twins of the Shia world: Qais al-Khazali and his brother Laith. Qais and Laith who? Unless you’ve scanned Washington’s latest

The rise and rise of the museum cafe

Saatchi & Saatchi started it. ‘V&A: An ace caff, with quite a nice museum attached,’ said the ad campaign of the late 1980s. Other slogans in the series played on themes of taste and tastiness — ‘Where else do they give you £100,000,000 worth of objets d’art free with every egg salad?’, ‘All right, the

The Korean wave: how Seoul film and music won over the world

If you think that Boon Jong-ho’s Parasite (which won four Oscars this week, including Best Picture) is pretty black as comedies go, you should try the South Korean film The President’s Barber. Set in 1970s Seoul, a working-class hair clipper is appointed to tend the dictatorial leader Park Chung-hee, and tensions grow between his family

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The fight to save G. K. Chesterton’s home from demolition

It’s a quiet Wednesday afternoon in Britain’s most expensive market town, and there’s a sense of foreboding in the air. Well, there is if you’re a G.K. Chesterton fan. South Bucks District Council is about to decide whether Overroads, the house where the author lived from 1909 to 1922, will be demolished and replaced with