Leading article

Press freedom isn’t ‘sentimental’ – it’s vital

‘We can be quite sentimental about some of our so-called treasured assets,’ said Lord Johnson, one of Kemi Badenoch’s business ministers, earlier this week. ‘The reality is that media and information has moved on. Clearly, most of us today don’t buy a physical newspaper or necessarily go to a traditional news source.’ His implication was

Britain’s welfare system is out of control

To grasp the scale of Britain’s welfare crisis, consider some of the changes announced by the government this week. There will be tighter restrictions on sickness benefit and people with mobility issues will have to work from home. It’s a big and controversial reform. But the result? The number of Britons claiming sickness benefits –

Sunak only has himself to blame for the Rwanda ruling

It is seven years since the British public voted by a slim majority to leave the European Union. The idea was to ‘take back control’ by retrieving powers of sovereignty that had been given to Brussels. But there was another part of the equation that was less talked about: the power over law that had

Britain has led the way on migration

Human trafficking is a multi-billion-pound global industry. It is fuelled by the desperation of migrants seeking a better life and the cynicism of those who are now adept at identifying and exploiting loopholes in western border controls. One of Germany’s proposals is to explore copying the British model and process asylum applicants elsewhere As ever

We have more to fear from social media than AI

For once, Nick Clegg had a point. At the start of this week’s Artificial Intelligence summit at Bletchley Park, our former deputy prime minister spoke about the need to get priorities right. ‘My slight note of caution,’ he said, is that we ‘don’t allow the need to focus on proximate challenges to be crowded out

The Tories are slowly turning the tide on immigration

For years the government has appeared to be setting itself up for failure with its promises to crack down on illegal immigration. The plan to process asylum claims in Rwanda was always going to excite immigration lawyers. Sure enough, it remains mired in the legal process. Even if the government wins its case in the

Europeans are rejecting the EU’s unworkable vision

The recent election in Poland has been presented by some as a triumph of liberalism over the dark forces of populism, but this is a misreading of events. It’s said that the Law and Justice party, which has ruled Poland for the past eight years, was trounced, but it won the largest share of votes

The problem with Labour’s fiscal promises

It is remarkable that in his conference speech in Liverpool, Sir Keir Starmer hardly mentioned the government’s biggest failures. There is burgeoning public debt, caught in a feedback loop by soaring gilt yields. It didn’t even feature. We have persistent inflation but although Starmer mentioned the ‘cost of living’ crisis several times, he missed out

Is now really the time to scrap A-levels?

The history of education reform is a graveyard of acronyms: TVEIs, GNVQs and so on. There have been many well-meaning initiatives that made sense at the time but struggled to gain acceptance. Rishi Sunak needs to proceed with caution before he launches into yet another reform of school qualifications, especially if it means the end

Can Sunak establish himself as a radical?

The Conservatives gather in Manchester this weekend for what may well be their last hurrah as a governing party. Bookmakers are offering odds of 7:1 to anyone bold enough to bet on Rishi Sunak winning the next general election. The Prime Minister himself is in a gambling mood and has started to make some brave

Rishi Sunak is right to reconsider his green pledges

The old carmakers were slow to realise the potential of electric cars and didn’t innovate. So Elon Musk, an internet tycoon, bought Tesla and stole a march on an entire industry. The internal combustion cohort then rushed to catch up: Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo and Ford all committed to go electric-only by 2030. The problem

Republicans will regret impeaching Joe Biden

As Napoleon is reputed to have said, never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake. So why are Republicans seeking to impeach Joe Biden when he’s looking increasingly capable of losing next year’s presidential election all by himself? We will never know what kind of president Biden would have made in his prime,

Will the collapse of councils be the next great scandal?

Last month India managed to land a spacecraft on the moon for a third of the price of refurbishing Hammersmith Bridge. This startling fact captures both New Delhi’s efficiency and the staggering incompetence of our local councils. It took two years and £9 million (in real terms) to build the bridge. It is set to

British conservatism is lurching from one crisis to another

No. 10 quickly asserted that the meltdown at National Air Traffic Services was a technical issue rather than a cyber attack. This was presumably meant to be reassuring. It is anything but. It speaks, once more, of a Britain with creaking infrastructure, where national paralysis has become a regular occurrence. The highest tax revenues in

Ulez expansion has gone ahead in defiance of evidence

London’s Ulez scheme has been expanded. A new network of cameras filming the traffic movements of millions of Londoners is now switched on. Old cars and vans, often used by sole traders, will be charged £12.50 a day if they pull out of their driveways. Keir Starmer had asked the London Mayor Sadiq Khan to

The government can’t be trusted with our data

This week Norfolk and Suffolk constabularies confessed that, replying to a freedom of information request, they had managed to release the personal details of 1,200 victims and witnesses of domestic abuse. The information was not readily visible but could be accessed by those with technical skills. The protection afforded by ID cards is only as

Why do the Tories force asylum seekers to live on welfare?

Over decades of service as a floating hotel, the Bibby Stockholm has accommodated all manner of people. It has housed workers for a Swedish wind farm and for the new Shetland gas plant; homeless people in Hamburg, asylum seekers in Rotterdam. It was briefly considered as a ‘high-end’ barge for students: with 222 en-suite rooms,

Trump’s indictment and the trouble with the law

The latest charges against Donald Trump will do nothing to deter his many supporters within the Republican party. On the contrary, his indictment by a grand jury set up by special counsel Jack Smith plays into the former president’s narrative of victimhood and makes it even more likely that he will be chosen as a

NatWest’s attack on Nigel Farage was a political hitjob

The Coutts scandal can be traced back to the day, two years ago, when the bank proudly announced that it had achieved ‘B Corp’ status. B Corp is a little-known non-profit which operates a scheme a bit like Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme. Companies that sign up and jump through the necessary hoops will receive a

Coutts must be held to account over Nigel Farage

When Nigel Farage said Coutts had closed his bank account and claimed political victimisation, many thought he was making it up. The BBC reported that Farage didn’t have enough of a cash balance to sustain an account in the King’s bank and many who oppose his politics suspected this was a TV talk-show host being