The Week

Leading article

Out of the ashes | 17 April 2019

‘Great edifices, like great mountains, are the work of centuries,’ wrote Victor Hugo in Notre-Dame de Paris. ‘The man, the artist, the individual, is effaced in these great masses, which lack the name of their author. Human intelligence is there summed up and totalised.’ The foundation stone of the cathedral of Our Lady of Paris

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the Week – 17 April 2019

Home Although the latest date for Brexit had been postponed by the European Council until Halloween, 31 October, the government had to confront the prospect of holding elections to the European parliament on 23 May if parliament would not agree to Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement before then. Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said that


Diary – 17 April 2019

I travel back from London with the St Matthew Passion filling my head, after the moving performance from the Elysian Singers and Royal Orchestral Society under Sam Laughton at St James’s Piccadilly. Why does that last chord send shivers down the spine? The dark instrumentation, the sense that it is not an ending but a

Ancient and modern

Divorce’s faultless history

The Christian church ordained that marriage, a sacrament imparting divine grace, was for life. In 1857, the state enacted its first generally applicable divorce law, to be triggered only by sexual misdemeanours. Liberalisation slowly followed,and now ‘no fault’ divorce is being proposed in England. We edge closer to pre-Christian practice. To generalise: in both Greek


Barometer | 17 April 2019

Embassy endurance Julian Assange was thrown out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, seven years after seeking sanctuary from extradition proceedings. But there are people who have hidden longer in embassies: — Jozsef Mindszenty, a Hungarian cardinal, spent 15 years in asylum in the US embassy in Budapest. He had served eight years in jail

From the archives

Israel and the UN

From ‘Israel’s Candidature’, The Spectator, 22 April 1949: Israel’s application for UN membership received a chillier reception than had been expected. There was a widespread feeling more needs to be known about Israel’s intentions on certain points before the final seal is given to her international position. Does she propose to do anything about the


Letters | 17 April 2019

Moaning minnie MPs Sir: I was recently quoted in the Sun newspaper in a story about how MPs were reacting to the Brexit drama in the House of Commons. I said: ‘It feels like the Commons is having a collective breakdown — a cross between Lord of the Flies and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s