David Rennie

The keepers of the sprout

With the possible exception of charades, no element of a British Christmas rivals the Brussels sprout when it comes to dividing families. In any well-ordered family, the sprout is a source of fierce disagreement, with those that love the vegetable on one side and haters on the other. There is no Third Way of the

Ségo and Sarko: not so different

If you need reminding why France is so aggravating, pay a visit to the political hometown of Ségolène Royal, newly selected as the Socialist candidate for next spring’s presidential elections. Melle, a small market town between Poitiers and the port of La Rochelle, has been Royal’s political base camp since 1988, when she was first

It was almost World War III

Fifty years after the Hungarian uprising, David Rennie talks to Bela Kiraly, now 94, who was urged to call for Western help — a call that could all too easily have sparked nuclear war Budapest Half a century ago Bela Kiraly was invited to start World War III. He said no, though the price was

What you can pick up in Iceland

It is no mystery why British Eurosceptics love Iceland. A bracing visit to Reykjavik is all it takes to see what the European Union could have been, if Brussels had stuck to the path of free trade and shunned ever closer union. Like pilgrims to a shrine, British Tories come to observe how Iceland enjoys

The future of Europe will be decided by tomatoes

Ioannina, Greece Like a penitent sinner, or an addict entering recovery, the European Union has developed a fondness for confessing it has lost the public’s confidence. Among EU leaders and top Eurocrats, there is much talk of ‘reconnecting with citizens’. To know why you should be sceptical, go to the ancient bazaars of Ioannina and

A Cold War card index is Romania’s best hope

Bucharest In 1950s Romania, as Stalinist terror descended, a mania evolved for hunting down ‘foreign spies’. Early victims included former staff at the British military mission in Bucharest, some of whom were shot for their services between 1944 and 1947. Even doormen at the mission, or secretaries, were sentenced to hard labour. As the terror

Paralysis is now Europe’s default setting

Luxembourg A sleeping sickness is sweeping the chancelleries of Europe. This Monday, in the space of a single day, Italy and France became the latest nations to succumb to the symptoms of this nasty disease — headaches, confusion, and finally a descent into paralysed slumber. As this article goes to press, the Italian election results

Peter Mandelson: ‘my member states’

Brussels Almost the first thing you see, on entering Peter Mandelson’s office at the European Commission, is a bound set of photographs of Siberia resting on the coffee table. Are they a signal, a discreet protest from this most British of politicians at being sent into exile? Mr Mandelson would insist not. He had, by