Northern ireland

Will the Red Wall revolt split the right?

48 min listen

On the podcast this week: is Rishi ready for a Red Wall rebellion?  Lee Anderson’s defection to Reform is an indication of the final collapse of the Tories’ 2019 electoral coalition and the new split in the right, writes Katy Balls in her cover story. For the first time in many years the Tories are polling below 25 per cent. Reform is at 15 per cent. The hope in Reform now is that Anderson attracts so much publicity from the right and the left that he will bring the party name recognition and electoral cut-through. Leader of Reform UK Richard Tice joins Katy on the podcast to discuss. (02:23) Then:

With Diana Henry

41 min listen

Diana Henry is a critically acclaimed, multi-award winning cook, food writer and author of 12 books including the classic cookbook ‘Roast Figs, Sugar Snow’, which has just been updated and re-released twenty years after it was first published. Diana also writes for newspapers and magazines, and presents food programmes on TV and radio. On this podcast Diana shares childhood memories of her mother’s baking, how ‘Little House on the Prairie‘ influenced her writing and when, on a French exchange trip, she learned how to make the perfect vinaigrette. Presented by Olivia Potts. Produced by Linden Kemkaran.

Violent extremists won’t spoil Joe Biden’s visit to Northern Ireland

What can violent extremists do to wreck Joe Biden’s first visit to Northern Ireland? The answer is precious little. The President’s visit has been denied the electoral fairy dust of a functioning Executive as he blows in to hail 25 years of the Good Friday Agreement. While that might disappoint some local politicians keen to bathe in some harmless warm platitudes, it will be less of a security headache for those charged with keeping him safe. So what of the known arrangements and the risks? Biden will land at Belfast International Airport this evening and be taken, one assumes by air, to a venue in the city for some glad-handing.

The DUP has a right to be difficult over the Northern Ireland Protocol

It’s easy to take an unsympathetic view of the Democratic Unionist Party. For many, its politicians are caricatures of the dour Ulsterman come to life; flinty types with an antediluvian outlook. An unfortunate reminder – for a certain type of Englishman – of all that ‘Irish stuff’ they would rather not have to deal with.  The back and forth over the Northern Ireland Protocol has seen this sentiment ratcheted up. Jeffrey Donaldson’s standpoint – no return to devolution without his party’s tests being met – is engendering incredible frustration among government ministers and a press tired of having to surrender column inches to this intractable tale.  One-time Brexit hardman Steve

The David Trimble I know (1998)

David Trimble, Northern Ireland’s first minister from 1998 to 2002 and leader of the Ulster Unionist party from 1995 to 2005, has died aged 77. In 1998, Ruth Dudley Edwards wrote about the Unionist leader from a Catholic’s perspective. On a wall in David Trimble’s Westminster office is a cartoon of a bunker, complete with tin-hatted soldiers poking their rifles over the sandbags. I was dealing with someone with an intellectual life outside academia and politics ‘Ulster,’ says the caption. ‘Probably the best lager in the world.’ I laughed when I saw it, and Mr Trimble grinned and gestured to a 1929 election poster behind his desk, featuring Lord Craigavon glowering

The EU never understood Northern Ireland

At the heart of the crisis over the Protocol is its failure to deliver on its own stated aims. To understand this crisis, it is necessary to know some key aspects of the Protocol’s genesis and history. Exactly a month after Theresa May triggered Article 50, the European Commission was instructed by the member states (the European Council of 27) with ensuring the UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU, including finding arrangements for the island of Ireland. That meant securing the Good Friday Agreement and avoiding a hard border. This was set out in legal guidelines on 29 April 2017 and elaborated in directives for the negotiations the following month:

Letters: Banning Russia’s culture only benefits Putin

Don’t ban Russia’s culture Sir: It is uncouth, illiterate and actually beneficial to Putin when theatres, opera houses and other cultural institutions in Britain and across the globe block access to these heights of culture (‘Theatre of war’, 14 May). During Stalin’s last decade and throughout the Cold War, Isaiah Berlin was a superb help to this country and to Russia through his connection with Anna Akhmatova, including the award to her of an honorary doctorate at New College, Oxford, in June 1965, the year before her death. Censorship and blocking of the free flow of culture between Russia and western society is what the Soviet Union enforced. It was

Portrait of the week: Inflation’s 40-year high, Tory MP’s rape arrest and monkeypox in Britain

Home The annual rate of inflation, impelled by energy costs, rose to 9 per cent, its highest since 1982. Unemployment fell to 1.2 million, 3.7 per cent, its lowest since 1974 and below the number of vacancies of 1.3 million. Britain said it wanted to do something about the Northern Ireland Protocol, but the EU said it couldn’t. The Democratic Unionist party said it would not take part in the power-sharing executive of Northern Ireland unless Britain did. Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, told the Commons that a new law would adjust Northern Ireland’s trading status. Maros Sefcovic, vice-president of the European Commission, said the EU would ‘respond with all

The protocol is hurting Northern Ireland

With every sausage war or fish fight over the past 18 months, the chances of survival for the Northern Ireland protocol have narrowed. But the fallout from the NI Assembly elections, which saw Sinn Féin become the largest single party, has made it increasingly likely that the UK will take unilateral action to override parts of the Brexit deal. The protocol has few supporters. Arguably its only redeeming feature was that it allowed Boris Johnson to break the deadlock and conclude the withdrawal agreement. Because a porous land border between the UK and the Republic would have threatened the single market – and a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic

Portrait of the week: The Queen’s Speech, Sinn Fein surge and an £184m lottery win

Home The Prince of Wales delivered the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament sitting on a throne next to the crown put on a table by Lord Cholmondeley. Prince Charles acted with the Duke of Cambridge as counsellors of state under the Regency Act 1937, since the Queen cannot walk easily; the other two counsellors, the Duke of York and Duke of Sussex, are not seen as fit to act in the role. The Speech mentioned 38 laws to level up, regenerate, bring safety online, secure ‘Brexit freedoms’ in the amending of legislation, regulate railways and ferries, promote heat pumps, prohibit protestors glueing themselves to buildings, deter puppy

Letters: What happened to hymns in schools?

Disarming by default Sir: Underpinning Rod Liddle’s amusing article on use of nuclear weapons last week is the reassurance provided by our deterrent (‘Will Putin go nuclear?’, 7 May). It is not difficult to imagine Putin’s behaviour if Russia alone possessed nuclear weapons. Our nation has embarked on refreshing the deterrent; and replacement of the four ballistic missile submarines, modifications to missiles and production of a new warhead are at the very limit of our nation’s industrial capability. Despite the US being extremely helpful, the performance of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) does not inspire confidence. It is crucial that there is sufficient funding, particularly at AWE, over the next

Sinn Fein’s victory doesn’t mean the end of the Union

No amount of extra counting later today can undo the seismic shift that has taken place in Northern Ireland’s politics. The first preference votes in Northern Ireland’s devolved assembly elections are in and Sinn Fein are the clear winners on 29 per cent. Sinn Fein – once the political appendage of a terrorist organisation that wrought 30 years of havoc and misery – is set to win the most seats in Stormont. It will then be able to nominate the first ever Republican First Minister. Before Unionists panic though, it’s worth examining the facts. On total votes cast, there will likely be a Unionist majority hidden by the byzantine calculus

Miss Brexit? Another bust-up is looming

In the past few months, relations between the UK and the EU have been the best they have been since Brexit. Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine reminded the two sides of the need for the world’s democracies to co-operate. It is tempting to hope that relations could continue to improve, especially now that the French presidential election is out of the way. But, as I say in the magazine this week, this is unlikely to happen. The Northern Ireland protocol is about to return to the agenda. The EU thinks that the UK must be made to abide by what was signed, and that allowing London to wriggle out of

Brexit’s potential is beginning to be realised

The purpose of Brexit was to strengthen Britain’s ties with both the world beyond Europe and with Europe itself, but in a more democratic way that carries popular support. It was clear to Boris Johnson and to the Leave campaign that the EU ideal of free movement of people, an idea forged in the 1990s, had become difficult to reconcile with the reality of the contemporary world. High-skilled immigration made more sense than low-skilled, they thought, and a new system was needed to deal with 21st-century challenges while strengthening national cohesion. Johnson’s critics, naturally, portrayed the supporters of Brexit as xenophobes and knuckle-draggers who were afraid of the modern world

James Forsyth

EU: normal disservice resumes

In the past few months, relations between the UK and the EU have been the best they have been since Brexit. Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine reminded the two sides of the need for the world’s democracies to co-operate. Disputes over fishing rights could wait. It is tempting to hope that relations could continue to improve, especially now that the French presidential election is out of the way. But this is unlikely to happen. This week Bruno Le Maire, France’s economy minister, dismissed the suggestion that fixing relations with Britain will be a priority for Emmanuel Macron’s second term. In Whitehall there is a recognition that there won’t be a

The Northern Ireland elections could break the Union

Belfast, Northern Ireland Phillip Brett was just nine years old the night a neighbour called to say his brother, Gavin, had been shot. Their father raced through the streets of their Belfast estate, arriving just in time to cradle his eldest son as he died. The teenager had been celebrating a friend’s birthday at the local Gaelic football club when he was gunned down by a loyalist gang looking for a Catholic to kill. But they got it wrong – Gavin had been raised Protestant, their parents having married across the sectarian lines that once divided Northern Ireland, with friends from all sides of the mixed community they lived in.

Don’t prosecute Soldier F

Sometimes old grievances are best laid to rest. That was certainly the view of Tony Blair when his government issued nearly 200 ‘comfort letters’ to Irish nationalist gunmen in the wake of the Good Friday Agreement. But a decision by the Northern Ireland High Court on Wednesday will upend that principle, setting back years of compromise and reconciliation. For some time it has been all but impossible to prosecute IRA men for murders committed during the Troubles. British security forces, however, remain vulnerable, although most are now in their seventies and long retired. One, indeed, died during a trial last year, one suspects partly from the trauma of being dragged through the courts

Sunak highlights the problem with the Northern Ireland protocol

What did we learn from the Chancellor’s spring statement? As James reports on Coffee House, Rishi Sunak’s promise of an income tax cut by 2024 offered a strong indicator of how – and when – the Tories plan to fight the next election. Meanwhile, the OBR’s finding that rising inflation will lead to the biggest fall in living standards since records began in 1950 highlights how even with the new immediate cost of living policies – including a 5p cut on fuel duty – the coming months will be painful for many households. However, aside from cost of living, there was another problem Sunak’s statement highlighted: the Northern Ireland protocol.