Why Sunak’s prayers in Delhi matter

Ever since Alastair Campbell’s declaration that ‘we don’t do God’, no prime minister – and almost no politician – has discussed their faith. David Cameron said his Christianity came in and out ‘like MagicFM in the Chilterns’, a line he borrowed from Boris Johnson who self-defined as ‘a kind of very, very bad Christian’. But Rishi Sunak is different. He’s a practising Hindu who has a shrine in No. 10 for family worship and works with a Ganesh idol on his desk. This being Britain, no one cares: a distinguishing point about our country. Sunak gets flak for being a Winchester old boy, a Brexiteer and an ex-banker, but no

Parliamentarians plot to ruin China’s G20

It’s a big week for fans of high politics and hobnobbing. Prior to the launch of Sunday’s COP26 shindig there is first the small matter of the G20 summit in Rome. And while the attention of many attendees – chief among them Britain’s Boris Johnson – will no doubt be on green gambits and climate diplomacy, there are fears that other crucial issues risk being overlooked in the dash towards Net Zero. Chief among these are the various abuses committed by President Xi’s China towards the Uyghur Muslims and the effective destruction of Hong Kong. Xi himself is not expected to physically attend the summit, not having left China since

Theresa May says goodbye to old friends at Japan’s G20

Theresa May makes her final bow on the world stage in Japan, where she is attending the G20 heads of government meeting in Osaka. It’s a funny place for it all to end. Japan’s second city prides itself as the country’s comedy capital. It is home to Japan’s ‘manzai’ tradition – a slapstick straight man/funny man double act which involves a lot of head slapping and cross talk. Besides their sense of humour, Osakans are known for their garrulousness, gaudy clothing and their suspicion of haughty, overly serious Tokyo. Think of Glasgow’s relationship to Edinburgh, or Newcastle’s to London, and you’re not far off. To ram home the message of

Where is the angry backlash against the far-left’s G20 protests?

Imagine if some far right militia had just taken to the streets of Germany.  Imagine that the militia covered their faces with balaclavas. Imagine if they smashed up buildings, set light to cars and otherwise made the centre of a major German city resemble a war-zone. Would it not attract attention? Would it not also, quite rightly, lead to major opinion pieces and much opining elsewhere about the far right being ‘on the march’? Would it not be treated as something more than just weather by the BBC and other news organisations? Imagine the weeks of reflection if a movement of the right had just left a city like Hamburg,

Ivanka Trump is Angela Merkel’s secret weapon to improving US German relations

Was it really worth it? Rioting on the streets, hundreds of people injured and administrative costs of €100 million – all to host an inconsequential waffle fest, resulting in a vague set of resolutions, most of which we knew about already. We all knew nineteen of the G20 leaders are in favour of free trade. We all knew nineteen of the G20 leaders are keen to limit climate change. We all knew Donald Trump would be the odd man out. Why didn’t the Germans save their money and spare Hamburg several days of chaos? The Spectator said last week that holding the G20 summit in Hamburg was bound to be

For all the Trump-Putin hysteria, Russia-US relations are as frosty as ever

What fun the internet is having now that Vladimir Putin has finally met Donald Trump. Social media is teeming with jokes, gifs, and memes about the two big dawgs of global politics finally coming together. It’s the great bromance of the populist age.  Underneath the hilarity, however, there remains intense suspicions about the relationship between Trump and Putin – it is now widely accepted, even if the evidence is still hotly disputed, that Russia ‘hacked the election’ in order to ensure Hillary Clinton’s defeat. Trump’s meeting with Sergei Lavrov in May was considered highly nefarious, especially after Trump accidentally gave away a state secret, apparently just to show off. Reports


Caption contest: why doesn’t he hold my hand anymore?

Theresa May is spending the day flying the flag for Cool Britannia at the G20 summit in Hamburg. The Prime Minister promised to use the trip to show that Britain remains a global player. But with May also planning to bring up the Paris climate change agreement with President Trump, how will the special relationship cope under the strain? Captions in the comments. Update: … and the winner is Voices of Reason with ‘Why doesn’t he hold my hand anymore’

Trump, Putin and Erdogan. The G20 should be quite something

G20 summits are usually dreadfully dull affairs, but this week’s global chinwag in Hamburg should be refreshingly feisty. No conference with Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan in attendance could ever be described as boring, and although President Trump’s first meeting with Putin will provide the main photo opportunities, there are plenty of other potential flashpoints – not least the toe-curling relationship between Trump and his host, Angela Merkel. Merkel will discuss trade and climate change with Trump – two subjects about which these two leaders seem destined to disagree. No US President has been so dismissive of climate change; no US President has been so hostile to German

Mrs May the ‘Student Killer’ should count the cost of her visa crackdown

In the post-Brexit landscape whose shape was barely glimpsed in G20 discussions at Hangzhou, one thing is clear: soon we’ll have to stop waffling about trade deals and start pushing British products the world wants to buy. One such is education, at our universities, independent schools and English-language colleges — an export sector calculated in 2011 by the now defunct Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to be worth £17.5 billion. Not only does this sector attract foreign exchange, plug funding gaps for cash-strapped universities and support thousands of jobs, it also lays the ground for future relationships with students who return home to embark on business careers. And as

What we learnt about Brexit from Theresa May today

Theresa May began her statement on the G20 by talking about Brexit. She insisted that she wasn’t going to give a ‘running commentary’ or reveal the government’s negotiating hand as, she said, that would not deliver the best deal for Britain. In other words, we’ll all just have to wait and see what she negotiates. May’s insistence that she won’t rule anything in or out does lead to some rather bizarre moments. May repeatedly, and rightly, stressed the trade deals that the UK would seek to do outside the EU. But when Labour’s Emma Reynolds asked her to confirm that these deals would require leaving the customs union, May ducked

Does Justin Trudeau realise how desperate his China love-in looks?

Whatever the reason behind Obama not getting the red carpet treatment in Hangzhou, there’s one leader who was guaranteed it: ‘Little Potato’. Or, as you might know him, Justin Trudeau. The pronunciation of Trudeau sounds similar to the Mandarin word for potato, and Chinese media’s primary frame of reference for him is through his father Pierre (Big Potato was friendly with China’s communist leadership years before the rest of the West felt ready to engage). Their other reference point is that he is the handsome ‘APEC hottie’, so perhaps Hot Little Potato is more accurate. His predecessor Stephen Harper, who stepped down as an MP last week, would never have

Isabel Hardman

Small island will need to talk big on Syrian aid

Even though Vladimir Putin slotted Syria into the G20 agenda last night, no-one seriously thought that this meant the world leaders would come to a proper agreement on what to do about the conflict. In the last few minutes, David Cameron has told journalists covering the summit that ‘divisions are too great’ for a deal, and that Russia wants further evidence that the Assad regime was behind the terrible attack in August. George Osborne was on the Today programme earlier discussing the summit. He said: ‘We’ve set out what we think is the right response, obviously President Obama has set out what he wants to do and there is a

Isabel Hardman

David Cameron: We can’t let Russia dictate other countries’ foreign policy

As well as having another extended Hugh Grant moment about how great Britain is (excluding David Beckham’s feet, but including One Direction), David Cameron got his chance to hit back at Russia’s intransigence on Syria this afternoon as the G20 summit drew to a close. Nodding to the lengthy declaration issued by the leaders – which fails to mention Syria or Assad – the Prime Minister emphasised that ‘this summit was never going to reach an agreement on what action is needed on Syria’. When Barack Obama spoke later, he said the discussions had reached unanimity that ‘chemical weapons were used in Syria, there was a unanimous view that the

Theresa May’s honeymoon period comes to an end

The Prime Minister and her colleagues are very slowly starting to reveal what they think they mean when they say ‘Brexit means Brexit’. This afternoon the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis will give a statement to Parliament on what the terms of negotiation might resemble for Brexit – or at least what the terms that ministers have come up with over the summer are. It may be that the Government isn’t actually ready to set very much out at all, but is just trying to avoid an urgent question from a hostile MP by giving a statement. Davis has described this as ‘an historic and

Ross Clark

G20 leaders have fallen for Project Fear

So, last week’s sharp rise in the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for manufacturing wasn’t a freak. This morning its twin, the PMI for the much larger services sector, also showed a huge rebound to 52.9, more than reversing the fall to 47.4 in July and putting it marginally ahead of PMI for the Eurozone, which stands at 52.8. The combined PMI was 53.2 in August. Anything above 50 suggests that the economy in expanding while anything below 50 suggests contraction. Just like last week’s manufacturing figure, this morning’s news seems to have caught forecasters unaware: the consensus was for PMI in services to be 50.0. It is a reminder of just

Tom Goodenough

Is May dropping the ‘Leave’ campaign’s immigration policy?

‘Brexit means Brexit’, Theresa May has repeatedly reassured us. But it seems Brexit might not mean an introduction of a ‘points-based’ immigration policy which Vote Leave – and a number of cabinet ministers, including Boris Johnson – had called for during the referendum campaign. The Prime Minister said the system was no ‘silver bullet’ and planned to look ‘across the board’ for answers instead. As is becoming clearer – and as James Forsyth pointed out after May’s Marr interview yesterday – the Prime Minister has a style in front of journalists which involves giving little away. So offering up the small titbit that a points system might not feature in May’s

How can we trust China with our nuclear power when we can’t trust it not to spy on our government?

In her decision as to whether to go ahead with the Chinese-backed Hinkley C nuclear power station – postponed from July apparently because of security concerns – Theresa May will find no better guidance than the advice which has been given to her and her aides while attending the G20 summit in Hangzhou this week. They have reportedly been advised to not to take their mobile phones, and to use temporary replacements while in China. They have also been given temporary email accounts which can be deleted upon return, and to avoid using public charging points for laptops and iPads. Any mobile phones that are taken to China, reports the

Portrait of the week | 3 March 2016

Home An official analysis by the Cabinet Office said that if Britain left the EU it would lead to a ‘decade of uncertainty’. Opponents of Britain remaining in the EU called the report a ‘dodgy dossier’. George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said that the economy would suffer a ‘profound economic shock’ if Britain left, echoing a communiqué of the G20 which referred to ‘the shock of a potential UK exit’. Boris Johnson revised his suggestion that a vote to leave could bring about a better deal from Brussels; ‘Out is out,’ he told the Times. Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, declared that ministers opposing government policy on

Portrait of the week | 20 November 2014

Home David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said: ‘Red warning lights are once again flashing on the dashboard of the global economy.’ He then offered £650 million to a ‘green climate fund’. In a speech in Singapore, Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, said that fines for banks over rigging foreign exchange rates showed that ‘it is simply untenable now to argue that the problem is one of a few bad apples. The issue is with the barrels in which they are stored.’ Official figures showed that the number of British Army reservists has been boosted by a recruitment drive in the past year from 19,290 to 19,310. Friends of the

Cameron wants to stop talking about ‘the crisis of our time’ as quickly as he can

David Cameron’s statement to the Commons on the G20 wasn’t as lyrical as his response to Russia’s ‘small island jibe’. But it was a reminder of the needle that now exists between Cameron and Miliband. In previous times, these statements—which are far less tense affairs than PMQs—have seen a bit of badinage between the two front benches. But that has now gone. The statement was dominated by Syria, which Cameron called the ‘refugee crisis of our time’. When Cameron talks about his defeat in the Commons on Syria, he speaks very quickly, with no pauses between the words. It’s as if he wants to get talking about it over as