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The SpectatorThe Spectator

The Spectator

August 24, 2019

Every week The Spectator is packed with opinion, comment and analysis about politics, arts and books. We lead the way on the great issues of the day, from political scandals to social trends. What you read in The Spectator today becomes news elsewhere in the weeks to come. We have the best columnists on Fleet Street, from Charles Moore, Rod Liddle, Matthew Parris and Alexander Chancellor to James Forsyth, the best-con

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51 Numéros


access_time4 min.
boris goes to berlin

There were many Brexiteers who were urging Boris Johnson to travel to Washington before he went anywhere else, to underline that Britain’s most important relationship is with the United States. And if the EU felt nervous seeing the UK cosy up to America, so much the better. But the Prime Minister’s first visit was to Berlin, and then to Paris, to see if a Brexit deal can be negotiated and the needless disruption of a no-deal exit avoided. It seems, at present, a rather long shot. Theresa May famously said little in one-to-one meetings with European leaders. Boris Johnson can be a lot more forthright, and should speak with candour about his own lack of room for manoeuvre. Even if he had been persuaded about the merits of the EU’s last…

access_time1 min.

David Gunnlaugsson was Iceland’s youngest prime minister and now leads the country’s Centre party (which opposes future accession to the EU). He gives his advice on Brexit on p14. David Eimer writes about China and south-east Asia. His latest book, Savage Dreamland, explores history and politics in Burma. On p28, he reviews a Rohingya memoir. Prue Leith is a restaurateur, writer and television presenter. On p29, she reviews a book about food and grief by Spectator Life’s Vintage Chef, Olivia Potts. Carolyne Larrington, who reviews a book about historical legends on p30, is a medieval scholar specialising in Old Norse. Her most recent book examines the historical influences on Game of Thrones. Robert Chote is chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility and a former adviser to the International Monetary Fund. He visits Greenland…

access_time3 min.
portrait of the week

Home Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, wrote to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, saying: ‘The backstop cannot form part of an agreed withdrawal agreement. That is a fact that we must both acknowledge.’ Mr Tusk said that those who opposed the Irish backstop ‘in fact support re-establishing a border. Even if they do not admit it’. Mr Johnson, after an hour of failing to agree with Leo Varadkar, the Taoiseach, on the telephone, prepared for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Emmanuel Macron of France. An atmosphere of plotting hung over prospects of an election on a date close to 31 October, when the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said that his party would do ‘everything…

access_time4 min.

I am up on the far north-west coast of Scotland, where the weather is changing every five minutes under vast skies and huge seascapes. Go to the beach and look left, and it’s a sparkling Mediterranean scene, bright white sand and opalescent turquoise water, what you might call Rossini weather. Swivel your gaze right, and vast dark clouds tower up, obliterating mountain ranges — Bruckner weather. Me? Like Isabel Hardman, of this parish, I just walk straight into the sea and swim. The choppy water is certainly cold but the whole experience is elating, and good for clearing the head. Which is, of course, what we need this summer. August politics is changing faster than the August skies, and this autumn looks set to be the most politically dramatic in my…

access_time5 min.
it’s time to talk about no deal

The main reason Conservative MPs prefer Boris Johnson’s government to Theresa May’s is because of its clarity of message. The government now has direction and purpose. Briefings from Tory HQ, delivered even to those MPs who have managed to get away on holiday, have gone from intermittent and inconsistent to daily and succinct. The message is simple: Brexit will be delivered by 31 October, crime is being tackled and the NHS properly funded. We can expect to hear these messages, or variants thereof, for the next few months. But there is one area where the government seems less sure of itself: what will happen in the event of no deal? The Prime Minister has long been reluctant to entertain the possibility as a likely outcome, after having said the odds on…

access_time5 min.
the spectator’s notes

One should not be censorious if the Duke and Duchess of Sussex fly in private jets to their holidays, though one cannot help laughing when they combine this with exhortations to save the planet. There is, sadly, no royal yacht nowadays (a new one would be a good make-work scheme post-Brexit), and we are not a civilised enough country to leave them and their baby alone if they were to travel on public transport. But they are making two mistakes. The first is to go somewhere hot, sunny and celebrity-filled for their break. One of the secrets of the Queen’s popularity is that she has almost never been seen sunbathing with the rich and famous. The worm of public envy never stirs when she spends her summers in Scotland. Her…