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Macron’s next move

It was a moment to cherish, not to spoil. But I wasn’t the only one at the grand Charlemagne prize ceremony for Emmanuel Macron in Aix-la-Chapelle last week to wonder if the French President has already accepted that the federalist game is up. The medal is awarded for services to the cause of European unification,

Italy vs the EU

It looks indeed as if Italy — the beating pulse of European civilisation — will be the first country in western Europe to fall to what’s popularly known as populism. Those who regard populism as an affirmation of democracy are pleased; those who regard it as a negation of democracy are appalled. The markets remain

False friends

Harold Macmillan once remarked that: ‘There are three bodies no sensible man ever directly challenges: the Roman Catholic Church, the Brigade of Guards and the National Union of Mineworkers.’ Today it’s tempting to add a fourth name to this list: the Conservative Friends of Israel. The CFI counts an estimated 80 per cent of Tory

The right stuff | 17 May 2018

To some, Tom Wolfe’s death might seem a greater loss for readers on the right wing of American culture and politics, since he viewed himself as a conservative, very much in keeping with his upbringing in the Richmond, Virginia, of the 1930s and 1940s. His gentleman’s manners and soft-spoken demeanour recalled another era — a

The art of the impossible

The extermination of every single one of South Georgia’s rats, for the sake of its birds, was confirmed at a press conference in London last week. A summer of searching with dogs and bait two years after the last poison was deployed turned up no sign of a rodent. This achievement is remarkable, not least

The whip hand

Spanking is back in the news. Le vice anglais was meant to be a dying art — a vestige of a time when men were more repressed, but it’s recently become clear that British men enjoy a thrashing just as much as they ever did. In the past few weeks a London barrister, Robert Jones,

The House of Soho

I have a phobia of wedding lists. They always seem very presumptuous. Friends ask for monstrous amounts of things that I’m sure they don’t really want. I look at their lists and my heart sinks. I know I should buy something, but what to choose from all the overpriced paraphernalia? I wonder if the guests


Jerusalem Notebook | 17 May 2018

‘Trump Make Israel Great’ reads the banner on the deserted hotel next to the new American embassy in Jerusalem. Unlike most of the world population, Israelis regard the US President as a big improvement on Barack Obama. In government, his decision to move the embassy here from Tel Aviv has elevated him to near godlike

Notes on...

The English seaside

‘May I take a picture of your snake?’ I asked the tattooed man with a python around his neck, regretting it as the words left my mouth. He nodded. ‘What’s it called?’ ‘There’s two,’ he replied, gruffly. So there were! Two pythons comfortably coiled, glistening in the sunshine. It was the hottest early May bank