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Katy Balls

The survivor: how much longer can Boris Johnson keep going?

On Tuesday night, after apologising again to the House of Commons for breaking lockdown rules, Boris Johnson addressed a private meeting of Tory MPs. He had a message for his critics: ‘This is the beginning of the end.’ ‘For a minute, I thought he was talking about himself,’ says one MP. In fact, the Prime

How I finally learned to love my eco-home

Nine years ago, when I invested every-thing I had in a part-rent, part-buy, one-bedroom, government-backed eco-home which proved to be a boiling box in summer, my first instinct was to throw myself out of a window – but I couldn’t because they opened only ten centimetres. My second was to complain about it in The

Narcissist vs fantasist: France’s gruesome choice

Something strange is happening in advanced western democracies. In America and France, voters keep finding themselves choosing between candidates for whom they have very little affection. In America, we saw Clinton vs Trump, followed by Biden vs Trump. And in France this week, we have Macron vs Le Pen again. As many French voters now

Why more and more Russians are backing the war

O, do the Russians long for war? Ask of the stillness evermore, Ask of the field, or ask the breeze, And ask the birch and poplar trees. So begins a famous Soviet-era song and poem, written by Yevgenii Yevtushenko during Khrushchev’s Thaw. Volodymyr Zelensky cited the poem in his eve-of-war address to Russians, hoping it would rekindle these

The missing mandarins: why won’t civil servants go back to work?

‘Mother nature,’ says Boris Johnson, ‘does not like working from home.’ The Prime Minister wants workers to return to offices so they can have the ‘stimulus of exchange and competition’. His ministers are just as evangelical. Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, says he favours ‘being able to interact directly’ with colleagues and Rishi Sunak has

Priti Patel is playing into Paul Kagame’s hands

If President Paul Kagame has been tracking the furore over Priti Patel’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, he’s been doing it on the hoof. Kagame moves constantly these days: the news broke while he was en route to Barbados after a visit to Jamaica. In the past two months he has been to

Are China’s censors losing control of Shanghai?

For weeks, Shanghai’s 25 million residents were assured that they would not be locked down. Then when the order came, the lockdown was supposed to last only seven days. It is now almost into its fourth week, and the government is struggling to suppress the chaos. Last week, 82-year-old Yu Wenming called his neighbourhood committee

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