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The Spectator

March 16, 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 Issues


access_time4 min.
the leadership deficit

When Philip Hammond revealed his mini-Budget this week, the figures seemed to mock his general pessimism. The Chancellor has been expecting disaster ever since Britain voted for Brexit, yet it has failed to arrive.Disaster has struck Westminster though. Theresa May has lost control of her party and her government, and yet her opponent, Jeremy Corbyn, is so weak that he strikes most voters as an even worse option. It’s hard to think of a time when our politics looked more dismal. But the country, overall, seems to be in strikingly good health.Never have so many people been in work. Never have household spending levels been higher. Inequality is at roughly a 30-year low and salaries are now rising at the fastest rate in ten years. The Chancellor mentioned none of…

access_time3 min.
portrait of the week

HomeThe government was defeated by 149 votes — 391 to 242 — on the EU withdrawal agreement presented by Theresa May, the Prime Minister. In a croaking voice she announced a free vote on leaving without a deal. Mrs May had come back from Strasbourg with two documents: a ‘joint instrument’, or interpretive tool agreed by Britain and the EU on the effect of the Irish backstop, and a 365-word ‘unilateral declaration’ by Britain, not agreed by the EU, asserting the right to take the persistence of the backstop to arbitration. The joint instrument said that the EU shared the UK’s aspirations for ‘alternative arrangements’ concerning the Irish border (such as technological monitoring) to be in place by 31 December 2020. The Commons had sat late on Monday before Mrs…

access_time4 min.

The best thing about the Evening Standard going to print at lunchtime is that we can be first to a story. The worst thing is that we can get that story wrong. On Monday, our splash headline about the Prime Minister and her Brexit deal was ‘Outnumbered. Outflanked. Out of time’. I thought we’d called it right. On Tuesday, I woke up to the headlines ‘May claims victory’ and wondered. Then Geoffrey Cox spoke and sank her premiership. Later that day he told the Commons it was highly unlikely David Cameron would ever have made him his attorney general. Geoffrey, you’re right.As this is The Spectator, we should talk up the benefits of Brexit. I’ve found one. I am back in touch with Mark Francois. Mark was a key member…

access_time5 min.
the democrats’ anti-semitism problem

Washington, DCRepublican strategists have long complained about how, every election, the Democrats mobilise minority groups against them. Now they’re trying to turn the tables. Right-wing social media warriors, encouraged by @realDonaldTrump, have spent months talking about ‘Blexit’: a black voter exit from the Democratic party. This week, the President and others have begun calling for a ‘Jexodus’ — a Jewish exodus — too.How Trump must delight in those clunky portmanteaus. He knows that, while black voters usually vote Democrat, they are not altogether anti-Trump. He also senses that Jewish voters, traditionally the most left-liberal people in America, are alarmed at a new Democrat tendency to bash Israel. Suddenly, left-wing anti-Semitism has become a talking point, much as it has in Britain. As with Jeremy Corbyn’s Jewish issue, it is hard…

access_time5 min.
the spectator’s notes

I had forgotten, until I checked this week, that Mrs May timed the general election of June 2017 in order to have a mandate for the Brexit negotiations. They began ten days after the nation voted. She conveyed no sense, at the time, of how the election result had changed her situation. In her beginning is her end. Political leadership requires imagination. She has never displayed any. Why, for example, did she fly to Strasbourg on Monday night? She made the same mistake in December 2017 when she took a dawn flight to Brussels after making a hash of the Irish problem. The point of dramatically winging your way out of the country is to be seen to win something. Instead, Mrs May is the spurned suppliant. She seems to…

access_time7 min.
it’s not over yet

Almost three years have passed since Britain voted to leave the European Union, and yet we are still no closer to a Brexit resolution than we were on that June morning. No one is in control and this country’s whole system of governance is creaking. We are in an interregnum that shows no sign of ending.What is remarkable about this moment in our history is that something must break the impasse. This means that, although Theresa May’s deal suffered the biggest defeat ever for a piece of government business and was defeated a second time by a three-figure margin, it is not dead yet.Many cabinet ministers, including several of those who are very critical of May, think there is a chance that the deal will pass at the third time…