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The Spectator February 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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access_time4 min.
break point

Even the most fervent Brexiteer would have to admit to being impressed at the cohesion and chutzpah of the European Union negotiating team. Michel Barnier talks as if it is the UK that most needs a deal, while the rest of the EU could carry on just as well as before, or better, without one, given that it would be able to attract business and investment away from us. For the EU to concede a trade deal, therefore, would seem to be little more than an act of kindness towards a fallen friend. As a diplomatic bluff, it is strikingly successful. But the economic reality is rather different. A free-trade deal benefits all. But if there were to be no deal, then what would happen? A report by the Halle Institute…

access_time1 min.

Soutiam Goodarzi is a 16-year-old Conservative party member and pro-Brexit activist. She is studying for her A-levels in Leeds. She writes about the hijab on p18. Jan Moir has previously written about Twitter etiquette, jewellery on men, and female Viagra. On p20, she writes about victimhood and the royal family. Anne Margaret Daniel was the editor of I’d Die For You and Other Lost Stories, which gathered F. Scott Fitzgerald’s uncollected short fiction. She writes about Hunter S. Thompson on p30. Nick Spencer, who considers the legacy of the Reformation on p38, is a senior fellow at the Theos thinktank and the author, most recently, of The Political Samaritan: How Power Hijacked a Parable. Igor Toronyi-Lalic is The Spectator’s arts editor. On p45 he writes about his trip to Paris, including a visit to…

access_time3 min.
portrait of the week

Home Theresa May, the Prime Minister, returned from a trip to Brussels and Dublin and hurried to the Commons to ask for more time to do something or other about the Irish backstop. The much-kicked Brexit can was expected to land in the parliamentary road again on 27 February, though the government envisaged no ‘meaningful vote’ until March. Oliver Robbins, Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator, was overheard in a bar saying that the choice might be between Mrs May’s deal or a delay to Brexit, to which the EU would agree. Brexit had taken an eschatological turn after Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, said at a press conference: ‘By the way, I have been wondering what the special place in hell looks like for those who promoted Brexit without…

access_time4 min.

‘You OK?’ was the message I sent to Luciana Berger last week. As I scroll back through our previous WhatsApp chats I can see that I’ve sent this same message painfully frequently. I’ve sent it each time someone is jailed or charged in court for abusing her and threatening her for being Jewish. I’ve sent it every time the anti-Semitic abuse she receives reaches fever pitch, such as the time last month when she asked for our party to put down a vote of no confidence in the Tories. After which she was attacked as ‘the member for Liverpool Haifa,’ an ‘Israeli shill’ and more merciless racial abuse. We live in backward times. Luciana has by no means been the only MP to criticise Labour’s position on Brexit, nor is…

access_time5 min.
tories must avoid complacency over corbyn

Statistically, a Tory victory at the next election is unlikely. British voters tend not to grant a fourth term to governments: it has happened only once in our post-war history. That was under John Major in 1992 in an election in which the government lost 40 seats. But this time, the Tories would go into a general election as a minority government. If this were not handicap enough, they’ll also have to fight the election having spent years dealing with Europe, the subject that splits the party most deeply. Yet, remarkably, the Tories are still in with a chance of winning a fourth term. They have one man to thank for this: Jeremy Corbyn. If Labour were led by a more conventional figure, politics would be very different. Another opposition leader…

access_time5 min.
the spectator’s notes

On Tuesday, Le Monde published a piece it had commissioned from me to explain why, from a British point of view, Brexit is not mad. (I was told that all the paper’s readers think it is.) I enjoyed doing this for two reasons. The first was seeing how my English came out in French. Le Monde sent me its translation. I was delighted to sound so much brainier and statelier, though French feels less flexible than English. The second was that writing for an intelligent audience which knows little of the background is an interesting exercise. It forces one to distil. I no longer had to analyse, say, the intricacies of the Northern Ireland backstop or the merits of the Malthouse compromise. I had to work out what this is…