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It’s not for Westminster to decide Northern Ireland’s abortion law

Predictably enough, there have been no calls this week for the Irish referendum on abortion to be re-run, no complaint from Ken Clarke about the ‘-tyranny of the majority’, no moaning that the campaign had been in any way unfair. Neither should there have been. The Irish people have made a fair and …

United Kingdom

The EU should go the way of the British Empire

To understand how the European Union works, and how it doesn’t, it helps to think of it as an empire. Empires are not fashionable just now, but they have their uses. At their best — Rome, Britain — they are capable of upholding common standards, preserving peace and prosperity, and helping …

United Kingdom

Europe has a democracy problem

In Italy, the people went to the polls – and were deemed to have the ‘wrong’ answer<p>This week the EU revealed its true nature. Rather than hand power to a Eurosceptic, the Italian President Sergio Mattarella defied the democratic process, and the wishes of most Italians, and put a puppet in place. …

Europe

Were all those young lives lost at Normandy in vain?

After visiting the graves, grief was replaced by rage at a precious victory squandered<p>I’m back in New York and digesting the five glorious days spent in Normandy. What was the fighting all about, you may ask: was it about freedom, equality, cultural diversity, man’s dignity — all liberal …

Bill Clinton

The buildings we knocked down in the name of ‘progress’

Amid the lost houses, lost districts and lost masterpieces, it's the former enticements of the high street that shine most brightly<p>When the German novelist Sophie von La Roche visited Oxford Street in the 1780s she saw watchmakers and fan shops, silversmiths and spirit booths, and a Pantheon that …

England

Books and Arts

Books

Portrait of the week: Marks & Spencer to close 100 stores, Meghan and Harry marry, Trump says North Korea summit might not happen

Home<p>Marks & Spencer announced plans to close 100 of its 1,035 shops by 2022, hoping to move a third of its sales online; the costs of the plans brought its annual profits down by almost two-thirds, to £66.8 million. Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs Great Northern, Thameslink and Southern, …

North Korea

Back on track

Harry Mount on the stunning transformation of King’s Cross<p>We shouldn’t be so smug about how rundown the Gare du Nord is — dirty, badly planned, with some of the most benighted souls in Paris gathered around its splendid 1864 triumphal arch. King’s Cross, and neighbouring St Pancras, were once just …

Greenwich Village

The poorer I get, the more capitalist I become

You can keep socialism. If I can’t have money, then please God let someone else have it<p>‘What a fabulous tan, where did you get it? said one of my fellow lunch guests as we entered the women’s powder room of a Mayfair hotel.<p>I get this a lot. I want to talk about where I have wintered, or summered, …

Time I

It’s not so easy to turn wine into words

Words, words, words. Over a couple of sessions, we drank a selection of serious wines, starting with a Cantemerle ’05. As everyone else thought it was delicious, it would have been curmudgeonly of me to say that although it had been open for a couple of hours, it would have benefited from another …

Wine

Catriona’s first bullfight – but would it be her last?

She eyed the mounted lance men with justifiable disquiet and shrank a little in her seat<p>Six Partido de Resina (formerly Pablo Romero) bulls for Rafaelillo, Thomas Dufau and Juan Leal. The first corrida of the week-long Nîmes feria. I haven’t seen a bullfight for 15 years; Catriona never. Catriona …

Women's Health

The joys of compounding

No wonder Einstein described compound interest as the most powerful force in the universe<p>Saving half a million pounds into a pension pot seems a goal so large and unachievable that many don’t bother. Better to live, and spend, for today.<p>But what happens at retirement when tomorrow becomes today? …

Retirement

Proper tutus, gorgeous designs, first-rate dancing: Royal Ballet’s new Swan Lake reviewed

Liam Scarlett’s attempt to retro-fit a political subplot into the fairy story, however, misfires badly<p>The Royal Ballet’s 2016 <i>Frankenstein</i> was a masterclass in how not to make narrative dance and the news that Liam Scarlett had been chosen to spring-clean and ‘reimagine’ <i>Swan Lake</i> had many …

Dancing

Bloodshed in Gaza: who’s to blame?

Much of the West is deluded about the antagonist in this conflict<p>In the seventy years since the rebirth of the Jewish state, the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem is one of the more momentous, yet contentious events in the country’s short history. Amid celebrations in the Holy City on the …

Israel

Bernard-Henri Lévy: ‘Brexit will not happen’

‘If Brexit happens, Europe will collapse. It cannot survive’<p>I meet Bernard-Henri Lévy in a colossally luxurious hotel on a tree-lined avenue just behind the Elysée Palace. The French philosopher is half-reclining on a sofa, with one ankle tucked under his thigh, beneath an ornamental bookcase …

United Kingdom

Why Mark Carney’s successor is likely to be woman

If Ben Broadbent’s <i>Daily Telegraph</i> interview last week was the launch of a bid for the governorship of the Bank of England, then it spectacularly misfired. The deputy governor’s use of ‘-menopausal’ to describe an economy past its productive peak — damned by the <i>Guardian</i> as ‘un-abashed misogyny’ even …

Stock Markets

The cruel end of Emmanuel Barthélemy –as a waxwork in the Chamber of Horrors

The hot-blooded French exile continued his murderous spree in Victorian London, ending up in Madame Tussauds, alongside other notorious criminals<p>This is a biography that begins with a bang, swiftly followed by puddles of blood, shrieks of ‘Murder!’ and a chase through the foggy streets of Victorian …

Literature

to 2357: Half a Drum

Unclued lights were five fictional TOMs and their authors: JONES (14A) and FIELDING (8D), SAWYER (16A) and TWAIN (35A), BROWN (41A) and HUGHES (15D), KITTEN (20D) and POTTER (30D), and BOMBADIL (23D) and TOLKIEN (12A). <b><br>First prize</b> Chris Edwards, Pudsey, Leeds<b><br>Runners-up</b> Daniel Angel, Twickenham, …

Oxfordshire

Large chunks felt lifted from The Archers: Nightfall reviewed

Plus: Tina – The Musical was muscular and honest and had a contagious sense of fun and excitement<p>The Bridge’s big summer show is <i>Nightfall</i> by prize-winning newcomer Barney Norris. Widowed Jenny wants her grown-up kids, Lou and Ryan, to help her run their farm in Hampshire following their dad’s …

Oil & Gas Industry

My hot tips for the Flat season to come

From Mr Marrakech to Astrologist, here are my Twelve to Follow<p>In his days as a novice jockey in the West Country, Bob Davies, who was to ride more than 900 winners, asked the trainer of the horse he was about to partner over 24 fences: ‘How does he jump?’ ‘No idea,’ came the reply. ‘That’s for you …

Horse Racing

Bridge

Martin Hoffman, who died last week, had an extraordinary life. Born in Prague in 1929, he was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust and came to live in England soon after being liberated in 1945. He learned bridge by kibbitzing at a local club and became one of the most brilliant …

Prague

Diversity notes

Abstractionitis revisited<p>In its recently published survey, <i>Leading for Change: A Blueprint for Cultural Diversity and Inclusive Leadership Revisited</i>, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) asserts that there is insufficient ‘cultural diversity’ in Australia because of the statistically dismal …

Human Rights

1983: the year the world nearly ended

Reagan’s Star Wars panicked the Soviets into putting their nuclear arsenal on highest alert. But a cool Nato commander refused to react<p>In 1983, Soviet spies skulked in our midnight streets to check the lights were out.<p>The Kremlin, convinced the West was planning nuclear war, launched Project RYAN, …

Ronald Reagan

I like a fight too much. That’s why I’ll never go on social media

During a dozen years in Belfast I collected a number of political coffee mugs, hailing from both sides of the divide. Unionist designs including the heartbreakingly punctuated ‘Ulster Say’s No’ (not merely to the Anglo-Irish Agreement; no to everything) and the impressively witty ‘Reservoir Prods’: …

Sinn Féin

The landlords walking into the great EPC trap

Giving tenants security is a good idea — banning lettings which fail to conform is quite another<p>Buy-to-let investors have long occupied a slot in the national consciousness somewhere between arsonists and child molesters. They stand accused of stealing millennials’ chances of owning a home and of …

Housing

no. 507

White to play. This position is from Short-Muir, Gibraltar Masters 2004. How did Short bring his kingside attack to a successful conclusion? Answers to me at The Spectator by Tuesday 29 May or via email to victoria@spectator.co.uk. There is a prize of £20 for the first correct answer out of a hat. …

Gibraltar

It’s time for Mark Carney to stop fighting the Brexit referendum

Soon after he became his party’s leader, David Cameron spoke dismissively of Conservatives who ‘bang on about Europe’. He had a point. The subject has a peculiar ability to turn intelligent people into crashing bores who obsess over Europe to the exclusion of all else. Often, the subject warps good …

Bank of England

Dispatch from Pegasus Bridge, Normandy

Our French waitress’s response to my overtures might have changed the course of history<p>(Pegasus Bridge, Normandy) -<p>We’re taking morning coffee at the Café Gondrée, which skirts <i>the</i> bridge. It still belongs to Arlette Gondrée, whose family owned it on D-Day. She was a girl at the time and she now …

Le Mans

£350 million for the NHS: How the Brexit bus pledge is coming true

Vote Leave’s success has turned the Conservatives into big spenders<p>A fortnight before Philip Hammond delivered his last Budget, the chief executive of the NHS gave a speech making the case for more funding. Simon Stevens had brought with him picture of a Vote Leave poster, promising £350 million a …

United Kingdom

Michael Gove’s stove ban is a direct attack on country life

Michael Gove wants to punish those who use wood-burning stoves and possibly even open fires. It would be hard to think of a more direct attack on country life. All houses in the country are cold, and impossibly expensive to keep warm by central heating alone. The cheapest and most cheerful way of …

Michael Gove