There is such thing as a stupid question

Some people seem to make a career of being ashamed (or at least claiming to be ashamed) of their country. Personally I don’t feel it – apart from when I see journalists from the BBC, ITV or Sky questioning our political leaders while they are abroad. Then a great wave of revulsion and national shame surges within me. It happened last weekend when Rishi Sunak was at the G7 summit in Japan. These meetings of the world’s leading economies are pretty important affairs, so much so that major media organisations fly journalists out to cover them. But as Sunak and his hosts stood to answer questions about the summit, what

How to spend 48 hours in Hiroshima

Tourism is well and truly back in Japan, with packed flights and full hotels during the popular sakura (cherry blossom) season last month. And from today, all eyes will be on Hiroshima as it hosts the 49th G7 summit – an event that Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has promised will showcase the ‘charms of our country’. So what can visitors expect from the city best known as where the world’s first atomic bomb was used in warfare in 1945? While Tokyo will no doubt be top of the to-do list for anyone on a flying visit to Japan, during a recent tour of the country it was western Honshu,

Macron’s Russian oil plan is bound to fail

It will drain Vladimir Putin of funds for his war machine. It will bring down inflation. And it might even be enough to stop the global economy from tipping into recession. As President Macron put forward his wheeze for solving the energy crisis this week, he no doubt had plenty of persuasive arguments. He appears to have brought the rest of the G7 on board for his plan for a global cap on the price of oil. There is just one problem. Like most price controls, it is not going to work. Indeed. It will only make the crisis worse. Of course, everyone can see where Macron is coming from.

Boris Johnson’s G7 Afghanistan summit ends in failure

As expected, the emergency G7 leaders’ summit on Afghanistan has broken up without agreeing an extension to the 31 August deadline for evacuations from Kabul. Boris Johnson tried to put a positive spin on the virtual meeting, which he had convened, when he gave a pool clip after, saying the group had set a condition for the Taliban to ‘guarantee, right the way through, through August 31 and beyond, safe passage for those who want to come out’. He added that while some might not accept that, it was worth noting that ‘the G7 has very considerable leverage – economic, diplomatic and political’. But he conceded that the deadline extension

Portrait of the week: Freedom off, GB News on and the Queen’s tea with Biden

Home The lifting of coronavirus restrictions was delayed from 21 June until 19 July, probably. The motive was to avoid a ‘significant resurgence’ in hospital admissions from the more contagious Delta variant of the virus. Public Health England declared that the Pfizer vaccine was 96 per cent effective in preventing hospitalisation, and the AstraZeneca vaccine was 92 per cent effective. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, appealed to the advantage of administering more vaccinations in the extra four weeks. Vaccinations would be made compulsory for care home staff working with older people in England. From 21 June, guests at a wedding would no longer be limited to 30, but there must

Is it time to end the G7 spouse circus?

Turn on any television news broadcast and peruse any news stand on the eve of the G7 summit, and what was the favourite picture? Carrie and Jill take a barefoot walk along the Cornish sand beside the blue Cornish sea, and enjoy a frolic with little Wilfred (just past his first birthday).  Ahhhh. Isn’t that lovely, so natural, so normal, you say. Melania (snarl) would never have done that. Oh, and by the way, Jill’s jacket said ‘Love’ on the back, contrast with Melania’s during a visit to a migrant detention centre, which said (if you have already forgotten) ‘I really don’t care, do U?’ Well, you might care. Then

Is Biden coming around to Boris?

Today’s US-UK diplomacy didn’t get off to the best start, with the Times breaking the remarkable news about a US demarche — or diplomatic rebuke — to the UK government to complain about its approach to the Northern Ireland protocol. But the day has ended in a better place for the UK government. The US-UK joint statement contains a section on Northern Ireland that is far more nuanced than the demarche. It talks about the ‘delicate balance’ of the Good Friday Agreement, which is something that the UK has been trying to stress in its discussions with the EU — arguing that unionists’ objections to the protocol in its current

Olivia Potts

What makes a pasty Cornish?

This week, world leaders are doing what countless Brits do every summer: unpacking their bags in a charming corner of Cornwall. The G7 summit — Joe Biden’s first, and Angela Merkel’s last — is taking place in the resort town of Carbis Bay, a stone’s throw from St Ives. Between the speeches and the roundtables, will the world leaders find time to tuck into Cornwall’s proudest and most popular export, the Cornish pasty? Boris Johnson talked about the region’s industrial history in the run-up to the event: ‘Two hundred years ago Cornwall’s tin and copper mines were at the heart of the UK’s industrial revolution and this summer Cornwall will

James Forsyth

Why this G7 summit matters more than most

It’s risky planning a trip to the British seaside at any time of year. But if the weather forecast is to be believed, Boris Johnson will get away with this gamble at the weekend’s meeting of the G7 at Carbis Bay in Cornwall. Brexit’s critics were always going to seize on any evidence that Britain was being sidelined by the rest of the world after we left the EU. So it is fortunate for the government that the UK is the host of this year’s summit because it has placed this country at the centre of things. This G7 is unusually consequential. It is the first time that these leaders

A family affair: who’s who in the G7 entourage

It’s all eyes on Cornwall today as the G7 summit kicks off, bringing the leaders of the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan to Britain.  The various heads of government, having spent months in lockdown, will no doubt be brushing up on their small talk ahead of their various diplomatic meetings, with leaders’ spouses set to mingle under the watch of newly wed Carrie Johnson.  Should the policy debates prove too fraught here’s everything they’ll need to know to navigate the (somewhat) safer subject of their better halves and children: The Bidens, USA First Lady Dr Jill Biden will sit down to tea with Carrie Johnson ahead of the G7 summit. Whilst their policy interests may

The hidden costs of the G7 tax deal

Calls to reform corporation tax are nothing new and don’t just come from the left. The inefficient and bureaucratic nature of the tax has been highlighted by free-market advocates for years, as it becomes increasingly obvious that, in the age of multinationals and digital tech giants, the structure is no longer fit for purpose. Action is now being taken. This afternoon the advanced economies which form the G7 agreed a new structure for taxing big corporations. The historic deal will see a major shift in the way companies are taxed: away from the existing model in which they are taxed in accordance with where their product is created to a new

The world’s first robot artist discusses beauty, Yoko Ono and the perils of AI

Like a slippery politician on the Today programme, the world’s first robot artist answers the questions she wants rather than the ones she’s been asked. I never had this trouble with Tracey Emin or Maggi Hambling. As we stand before a display of her paintings at London’s Design Museum, I ask Ai-Da whether she thinks her self-portraits are beautiful. What I want to get at, you see, is that, while it’s quite possible for a machine to make something beautiful, it’s hardly comprehensible for a thing made from metal, algorithms and circuitry to appreciate that beauty. ‘I want to see art as a means for us to become more aware

Britain’s golden diplomatic opportunity

‘The world’s changed quite a bit,’ was Domic Raab’s fitting, if somewhat understated, opening remark at the G7 meeting of foreign secretaries this week. The first in-person meeting of the alliance in two years saw masked dignitaries, elbow bumps and distanced discussions behind plexiglass screens. But two members of the Indian delegation still ended up testing positive for Covid. Beyond the immediate challenges of the current crisis, Raab’s words seemed prescient. Quite a bit has changed since the G7 last met in France in 2019. Britain has left the EU and is no longer paralysed by parliamentary deadlock. President Biden has replaced Donald Trump in the White House. German and