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Cornered: could Putin go nuclear?

At the start of the war in Ukraine, I was given a recording made by the Ukrainian intelligence services. It was described as an intercepted call from an officer at Russia’s nuclear missile base in Siberia to a relative in Kyiv. The line crackles and a man speaks in Russian: ‘I don’t know what I

The Energy Price Guarantee may cost much less than is feared

Critics of ‘Trussonomics’ – and there are many – have been quick to claim that the new energy price plan puts its economic credibility at risk. Indeed, early estimates suggested that the ‘Energy Price Guarantee’ could cost the taxpayer £150 billion or more over two years, making it the most expensive economic policy in history.

Brace yourself for a coup in Brazil

‘Jail, death or victory.’ These are the three alternatives Brazil’s incumbent leader says await him. It is an unusual rallying call for an election campaign, but this is Jair Bolsonaro, the ‘Trump of the Tropics’, and he may well be right. Bolsonaro was elected in 2018 when his initial rival, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva,

Wes Streeting: we need the private sector to help reform the NHS

When Labour MPs gossip about who could be their next leader, Wes Streeting’s name invariably comes up. Like Angela Rayner, the party’s deputy leader, Labour’s shadow health secretary spends half his time insisting he’s not running for the top job. Also like Rayner, he’s never actually stood for it – yet. But there have been

The sad demise of the church pew

Imagine a child’s drawing of the interior of a traditional English church and the elements the picture is likely to contain. There will be colourful stained-glass windows, an altar and, almost certainly, rows of sturdy wooden pews. Yet the sad truth is that in parish after parish, the pews – which are often centuries old

Notes on...

The joy – and occasional pain – of a fountain pen

Our new King isn’t the only royal to have lost his rag over a leaky pen, as happened when he was signing a visitors’ book at Hillsborough Castle near Belfast. ‘Oh God, I hate this,’ King Charles said, before handing the pen to his wife, Camilla, Queen Consort. ‘I can’t bear this bloody thing… every