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The Spectator February 23, 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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britain is working

At any other time, news that Honda intends to close its Swindon plant in two years’ time with the loss of 3,500 jobs would have been seen for what it is: a tragedy for those affected, their families and businesses it supports. But the story was used by both sides in the Brexit wars to prove their point. Certain Remainers saw it as proof of what leaving the EU will bring, while some Leavers were almost callous in the way they shrugged off the closure. When news like this is being exaggerated for effect, it’s hard to form a clear view of what’s going on. But through the fog, a pattern is discernible. The car-making industry is in great difficulties worldwide, as Ross Clark argued in our cover piece a fortnight…

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Vernon Bogdanor is a professor at King’s College London specialising in the British constitution. His former students include David Cameron and Toby Young. He writes about Nato on p10. Chris Duffey is a technologist for the American software company Adobe. On p18 he explores developments in artificial intelligence and interviews Aimé, a virtual personal assistant. Sir Paul Collier is professor of economics and public policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. He makes the case for withdrawing Article 50 on p24. Damian Thompson, who writes about homosexuality in the Vatican on p33, is editor in chief of the Catholic Herald and host of The Spectator’s Holy Smoke podcast. Anne Sebba’s most recent book is Les Parisiennes: How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved and Died in the 1940s. She reviews George…

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portrait of the week

Home Seven MPs resigned from the Labour party and sat in the Commons (next to the DUP) as the Independent Group, or Tig. They were Luciana Berger, Ann Coffey, Mike Gapes, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith and Chuka Umunna. The next day they were joined by Joan Ryan and the following one by three Tories, Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen. The Labour eight said they objected to anti-Semitism in the party, the security risk should Jeremy Corbyn become prime minister and Labour’s lukewarm attitude to a second referendum. Derek Hatton, who had been the deputy leader of the Militant-controlled council which set an illegal budget in Liverpool, was readmitted to the Labour party after 34 years. Theresa May, the Prime Minister, returned to Brussels for talks on Brexit…

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a drive to change lives

Welcome to The Spectator’s Economic Disruptor of the Year Awards 2019, sponsored by Julius Baer. We’re waiting to hear from entrepreneurs in every business sector across the UK who are eager to tell us how their products are bringing radical benefits to consumers in terms of price and choice. We’re looking for disruptors who can make an impact nationally and globally. Meanwhile, we’ll be presenting inspirational stories about the people behind the UK’s fastest-growing entrepreneurial ventures. In the first of the series, Martin Vander Weyer meets Virraj Jatania, whose low-cost banking app Pockit was the overall winner of our 2018 awards. Virraj Jatania doesn’t need to be an entrepreneur. He’s a scion of a respected Asian business dynasty who made their fortune with Lornamead, the personal-care products empire which owned brands…

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A choppy week sitting in for Piers Morgan again on Good Morning Britain. One nude studio guest, a sprinkling of prevaricating politicians and an interview with the delightfully direct Dolly Parton. That’s breakfast telly for you. And I love Dolly. Who doesn’t? I’ve met her a few times and she’s as sharp as a tack. Once, mid-interview, she stretched out her legs and considered her shoes. I laughed. ‘You’ve got really tiny feet, haven’t you, Dolly?’ She nodded, adjusting her embonpoint with both hands. ‘Nothing grows in the shade, honey.’ I remember my first interview with a naked person. (You don’t forget that kind of thing.) I was the local paper’s cub reporter, alone in the newsroom on the late shift, when our night receptionist’s quavering voice floated up from downstairs.…

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europe’s nato problem

There are four major power blocs in the world — the United States, Russia, China and the EU. Of these, only the EU does not provide for its own defence and security. Remarkably, nearly 75 years after the end of the second world war, Europe is still heavily dependent upon the United States for its defence. But it is hardly surprising that, in the Trump era, pressure has grown for an autonomous European defence policy. The question of how Europe is to be defended in the post-Brexit era has yet to be examined. The EU has, for some years, been seeking ‘strategic autonomy’, though it is never wholly clear precisely what that means. But in February 2015, Ursula von der Leyen, the German defence minister, called for a European army, a…