Attending an impromptu birthday party in the office is not the most heinous of crimes, and of course Britain’s fixation on Downing Street’s breaches of lockdown rules looks rather perverse against the crimes being committed by Vladimir Putin’s troops in Ukraine. But there is little point in the Prime Minister or any member of his government attempting to argue that point.
It is very clear that there is considerable anger among the British public that a government which imposed highly prescriptive Covid rules failed to live by the letter of those rules itself.
In just over a week’s time, Emmanuel Macron will most likely win a second term. He has the opponent he wants in Marine Le Pen, whom he believes will be too unpalatable for the French people. He hopes voters will fear that, unlike in 2017, she has a reasonable chance of victory – polls show just a few percentage points between the two candidates – and be persuaded to vote for him instead. If Macron’s strategy succeeds and he returns to power, it may seem as if nothing has changed in French, and indeed European, politics.
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, travelled to Kyiv in secret and joined President Volodymyr Zelensky for the cameras in his office and in empty streets. He was given a pottery cock by local people. He said: ‘We are stepping up our own military and economic support.’ Mr Zelensky said: ‘It is time to impose a complete embargo on Russian energy resources.’ Britain would send 120 armoured vehicles, Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles, 800 anti-tank missiles and anti-ship missile systems.
This week has been Passiontide, which means lots of wonderful plainsong in the choir of Canterbury Cathedral as my predecessors sleep. Holy Week began on Sunday in the shadow of war, suffering, loss and pain. How do we celebrate the promise of everlasting life in such darkness? Good Friday is ‘good’ because on the cross we see the goodness of God in the middle of the mess of our own creation. Jesus refuses to answer his accusers on their terms, to use his own power to overcome by force, or to see others hurt – even those who hurt him.
St. Petersburg University in Russia is (desperately?) inviting scholars worldwide to a conference in September celebrating Mikhail Speransky. It was he who, on the orders of the Russian emperor Nicholas I, published in 1830 a 45-volume compilation of all the laws of the Russian Empire, which he reduced to a 15-volume digest by 1839. It was to form the basis of the Tsarist legal system.
The precedent for this was, of course, the legal Digest of Rome’s eastern emperor Justinian (AD 533).
How many non-doms are there in the UK?
– In the year ending 2020, 75,700 people filled in a tax return in which they declared themselves to be non-domiciled – down from 78,600 the previous year and 137,000 in 2008.
– Of the 75,700 in 2019/20, however, only 62,200 were actually resident in Britain.
– In spite of their non-domiciled status, which does not oblige them to pay tax on foreign earnings, the 75,700 people still paid £7.
Sir: Thanks for once again highlighting the many issues with government in Scotland (‘Sturgeon’s secret state’, 9 April). It is time for the opposition leaders and the Scottish voters to temporarily put aside differences on other issues – including independence – and focus on holding the Scottish government to account. Surely no one could possibly wish for the additional misuse of public and party funds, and to watch Scotland’s services continue to deteriorate?
The faults in the devolution set-up have been exploited by the 15-year-old SNP government for many years.