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Katy Balls

The collapse: how Red Wall MPs turned on Boris

On Tuesday night, Boris Johnson loyalists were desperately trying to halt a spate of letters of no confidence going to Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee of backbenchers. They had thought there was plenty of time, that no MPs would move until Sue Gray’s report into the ‘partygate’ scandal was published. ‘Wait for

Why we still need the BBC

My first posting as a BBC foreign correspondent was Belgrade in the mid-1990s. Serbia was led by Slobodan Milosevic, practically the only Communist ruler in eastern Europe not to have been overthrown. He survived by reinventing himself as a nationalist, though he kept the Communists’ secret police. Our secretary was accosted one day by a

The hypocrisy of actors

I’ve been keeping a journal for nearly 60 years. There are piles of the damn things in archives and covered with shoeboxes on high closet shelves. I’ve never looked back at one word in them. Being a vain sinner, I’ve entertained the fantasy that others would but, as it seems I’m not going to be

What Norman Mailer’s ‘cancellation’ reveals

New York Recently a story about my father, the writer Norman Mailer, getting ‘cancelled’ tore across the internet. What started the hoopla was Random House, Mailer’s long-standing publisher, suggesting that his estate bring a proposal for a book. The book was to contain excerpts from several of his political writings and interviews in which he

Road to Reform: is Richard Tice’s party a threat to the Tories?

When I meet Richard Tice, the leader of the Reform party, in St Ermin’s Hotel in Westminster, he is sporting an upside-down Union Jack lapel badge on an otherwise immaculate navy suit, looking like the quintessential Tory he hopes to displace. There was a time when the Tories were complacent about challengers on their right.

What really happened to Politics For All

On 2 January I woke up late to the sound of my phone buzzing continuously and a sense that something had gone badly wrong. The first message was from a friend. ‘Having a nice holiday?’ he wrote, above a screenshot of my political Twitter account covered in block letters: ‘Suspended.’ My reaction was to swear

Why cash is still king to me

I recently set out on a simple mission: to break the £10 note in my purse so I’d have a five to put in the church collection plate on Sunday. My first attempt backfired. The café, where my order was delivered with an eye-roll of metro disdain, no longer accepted cash payments. I sat at

Notes on...

The secrets of chicken soup

Catherine Chicken is sickly. She has swollen up like a barrage balloon with an evil face and dinosaur feet. She lumbers about. It is peritonitis, the vet says, after I make my husband drive her to the animal hospital in Falmouth. She will not recover without an implant that prevents her ovulating. Chickens are ever