How many countries have conscription?

Halfway points Rishi Sunak told us we would have an election in the second half of the year, and we will have one on 4 July. When, exactly, is the halfway point of 2024? – There are 366 days in 2024, so we will be halfway through after 183 of them. That brings us to midnight at the end of 1 July, a day later than many might assume. – However, there is also the effect of daylight saving, which takes a hour away from March and puts it in October, shifting the halfway point of the year forwards by an hour to 1 a.m. on 2 July. Only two days of

Why won’t Rishi honour our £1,000 bet?

When I interviewed Rishi Sunak in February, I told him I thought his Rwanda plan for ‘stopping the boats’ was an expensive, unworkable dud and offered him a £1,000 bet to be paid to a refugee charity that he wouldn’t get any asylum-seeker planes taking off before the next general election. To my surprise, the Prime Minister clutched my outstretched hand and accepted the wager, sparking considerable revulsion. As the HBO comedian John Oliver put it: ‘Set aside the grossness on display here, imagine what a monster you have to be to put me in a position of genuinely wanting Piers Morgan to win something?’ Now Sunak has admitted no

Visa figures fall again – but is it enough?

It’s a big day for stats in British politics. Following the news that inflation has dropped to 2.3 per cent, the Home Office has this morning published its latest figures for visa applications. They reveal a 25 per cent fall across all visa routes in the first four months of 2024, following the package of changes that the Home Secretary announced in December 2023. The most significant drop was in student dependant numbers, which fell by 79 per cent.  This big fall is one of the reasons why Home Secretary James Cleverly is reluctant to clamp down even further on the graduate visa route. Last week’s report by the Migration

British families deserve a tax break

I am delighted to report that some £800,000 of taxpayers’ money is to be spent ‘remediating’ the works of Robert Louis Stevenson to show what a racist bastard he was. 70 per cent of Irish mums say they would stay at home to look after their kids if given the opportunity I assume the decision was taken because, as a nation, we are absolutely awash with cash at the moment and need somewhere to dispense of it. This project, funded by the quango UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will be carried out at Edinburgh University. I hope that, aside from clobbering Stevenson for having been born during a different time

Beware pathological niceness

When so many polls suggest that restricting mass immigration would be to politicians’ electoral advantage, voters in the West are continually stymied by why the immoderate flow of foreigners into their countries continues apace. Online comments abound with theories. Biden could lose the coming election because of his lovey-dovey border policies alone A global World Economic Forum-led cabal is intent on eliminating the nation state by fracturing polities into mutually hostile subgroups, making them easier to control. (An atomised in-fighting rabble would seem rather harder to control, but maybe that’s just me.) In the US, Democrats are intentionally importing minorities who will supposedly all vote Democratic and usher in a

Who’s afraid of population growth?

In ten years’ time, there’s a good chance that the main concern in the western world will be the threat of population collapse. Fertility rates are falling everywhere and no government has found a way of reversing the trend. Plenty have tried. South Korea has so far spent $200 billion on tax breaks and lowering childcare costs and has succeeded only in beating its own record for the world’s lowest birth rate, year after year. In Italy, the situation is close to a crisis, and in France it’s not much better. If this continues, the welfare state model, which depends on a decent worker-to-pensioner ratio, will collapse. There will not

Has Germany finally shaken off its dark past?

In 1982, a board game appeared in West Germany. If you landed on square B9 you were sent to a refugee camp in Hesse where you became ill from loneliness, unfamiliar food and not being allowed to work. Worse still, you had to miss a go and spend the free time thinking about ‘how you would feel in such a situation’. Even if, like me, your childhood was spent crying over lost games of Monopoly, nothing could quite prepare you for the cheerless experience of playing ‘Flight and Expulsion Across the World’. It’s unlikely an updated version has been commissioned for our home secretary, with players assigned counters representing the

Do the Tories have a death wish?

13 min listen

Nick Robinson asked Suella Braverman on the Today programme this week whether the Tories had a death wish. She said no. But why is the party, when it’s doing so badly in the polls, fighting among itself? James Heale speaks to Katy Balls ands Craig Oliver, former director of communications in No. 10.

Carbon capture: how China cornered the green market

30 min listen

On the podcast: In her cover piece for the magazine, The Spectator’s assistant editor Cindy Yu – writing ahead of the COP28 summit this weekend – describes how China has cornered the renewables market. She joins the podcast alongside Akshat Rathi, senior climate reporter for Bloomberg and author of Climate Capitalism: Winning the Global Race to Zero Emissions, to investigate China’s green agenda. (01:22) Also this week: Margaret Mitchell writes in The Spectator about the uncertainty she is facing around her graduate visa. This is after last week’s statistics from the ONS showed that net migration remains unsustainably high, leaving the government under pressure to curb legal migration. Margaret joins the podcast with Michael Simmons, The Spectator’s data editor. (13:07)

Has Robert Jenrick gone rogue?

12 min listen

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick, long thought of as one of Rishi Sunak’s closest allies in Parliament, hinted yesterday at a row with the Prime Minister. He had a plan to reduce immigration ready ‘last Christmas’, he said. Why didn’t Sunak take it anywhere? Max Jeffery speaks to Katy Balls and Paul Goodman.

Enemy of the Disaster: Selected Political Writings of Renaud Camus, reviewed

Everybody who knows nothing else about the French writer Renaud Camus knows that – as Wikipedia immediately asserts and as therefore is repeated every time he is mentioned in the press – he is ‘the inventor of the Great Replacement, a far-right conspiracy theory’. Until now, actually reading Camus has not been possible in English, so thoroughly has he been shunned by the mainstream media. Here, at last, are some of his core political essays in translation, published by a small press in America, that will make such dishonesty blatant in future. It is in that way, for good or ill, an essential publication, as few can genuinely be said

The misery of the Kindertransport children

On the night of 9 November 1938, across Germany and Austria, Jews were attacked and their synagogues and businesses set on fire. In the days that followed Kristallnacht, a scheme was put in place to save children from Nazi persecution. Known as the Kindertransport, it would, over the following ten months, bring 10,000 children to the UK.  The Kindertransport – the word refers both to the means of transport and to the overarching programme – has always been regarded as a symbol of British generosity towards those in peril and seeking asylum. But it was all rather more complicated, as Andrea Hammel sets out to show. There have been innumerable

Are whole life orders becoming more common?

Bank on it Does the August bank holiday actually celebrate anything? – When bank holidays were first established in 1871, the August bank holiday fell at the beginning of the month, allegedly because it was an important week for cricket in Yorkshire, the home county of MP Sir John Lubbock, who introduced the parliamentary act creating bank holidays. – It was moved to the Monday after the last Saturday in August as an experiment in 1965, largely because early August coincided with the annual factory closure, and many workers were on holiday then anyway. – In 1968 and 1969 the holiday fell in September, so in 1971 it was fixed

In defence of e-bikes

Identity politics Sir: Your lead article (‘On board’, 12 August) highlights numerous issues related to refugees, but does not offer much in regard to why this country is a magnet for economic migrants. You state that this is a rich country. How can this be the case when government debt is 100 per cent of GDP? Further, when we cannot provide adequate services in healthcare, education and housing, why should we take in migrants who cannot make an immediate contribution to the country’s tax base? The reasons that this country is so attractive are, firstly, the English language, which we can’t do much about. Secondly, we have an easily accessible

Sunak can’t blame landlords for not stopping illegal immigration

Small companies will face massive fines for not checking the papers of everyone they hire. Landlords will be put out of business for renting rooms to anyone without permission to be in the UK. With its Rwanda policy stalled, and with the numbers of illegal immigrants still at record highs, the government has a big new idea for trying to stem the numbers of people coming into the country. It will get small businesses to police the system. The only trouble is, that will damage the economy, and we will all suffer from that.  The government’s latest big idea for controlling immigration is to make it a lot harder for

Patrick O'Flynn

Suella’s Ascension Island plan doesn’t go far enough

There is nothing new under the sun. The idea of opening an asylum processing centre on the British overseas territory of Ascension Island has been knocking around for 20 years, but reports in today’s papers suggest it is suddenly all the rage again. Ministers are scrambling to find a ‘plan B’ in case the Supreme Court confirms the Appeal Court’s controversial view that the long-delayed Rwanda policy is unlawful. Way back in 2005, the Conservatives made a commitment in their manifesto that ‘asylum seekers’ applications will be processed outside Britain’. In the run up to that year’s election, Mark Reckless, then a researcher at Conservative Central Office, conducted a scoping

Letters: Prigozhin is the model of upward mobility

Prigozhin’s example Sir: Educationalists and policy advisers have long been concerned with identifying alternative routes of upward social mobility. The career of Yevgeny Prigozhin provides an illuminating example of precisely this (‘Crime and punishment’, 1 July). Instead of spending years swotting away at A-levels and business studies degrees, Yevgeny opted for hands-on commercial experience by running a hotdog stand in a big city. He was quick to recognise the value of physical fitness in the pursuit of ambition by engaging in regular training at a local gym. Networking was always high on his agenda, and he soon became close friends with an employee of the state intelligence agency who eventually

The immigrant’s experience of Europe

Meet Ibrahim, from Syria. He fled Aleppo just before the bombs began to fall. A clean $4,000 in cash to a smuggler got him a fake passport and, voilà, a ticket to Europe – briefly in Greece, then in Germany (‘the people, they looked different’), now in Spain. Immigrant life was tough at first: the strange language, the alien norms, the overt racism. ‘He was not on their level. Just a refugee.’ Then a lucky break. He starred in a homemade porn video that went viral: ‘100 per cent real Arab bull.’ Next, he’s earning close to a seven-figure salary, owns a flash car and has women dripping off his

The myths around immigration

After the media bigged up the expiration of America’s Covid-era Title 42, which enabled the US to block entries into the country, the anticipated stampede across the southern border doesn’t seem to have occurred. No worries, then? Behold the miracle of social adaptation. Before the handy illegal immigrant ejection seat was retired last week, illegal entries from Mexico had risen to 11,000 per day – if sustained, more than four million per year, and that’s after 2.3 million southern border apprehensions last year. The record-breaking influx had already become a stampede, and apparently people can get used to anything. As for why the ever-escalating surge of visitors for life, obviously

Suella Braverman’s immigration speech ruffles feathers

How should Rishi Sunak govern? Unfortunately for the Prime Minister, his MPs have plenty of views on the matter at the moment – and many are keen to air them publicly. In the face of disappointing local election results, a couple of hundred members of the pro-Boris vehicle the Conservative Democratic Organisation gathered in Bournemouth over the weekend (James Heale writes about the event here) where its members reminisced about the Johnson days and critiqued Sunak. Tonight Sunak is due to host a coronation garden party for all MPs, but ahead of that charm offensive a number of ministers and MPs are heading to the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster for