Could the European Union fall apart?

  • 6 December 2016
  • From the section Europe
Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announces his resignation during a press conference at the Palazzo Chigi following the results of the vote for a referendum on constitutional reforms Image copyright ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

It has been a dreadful year for the European Union. It has just got a lot worse. Next year could transform a looming existential threat into a terminal reality. The end of a joint 60-year project to transform the politics of an entire continent is now a distinct possibility.

Some would greet the prospect with glee, others with horror. But few have thought through what it would mean if the pillars came crashing down.

The Italian vote means, as here, a populist, anti-establishment surge has defenestrated a prime minister.

There, as here, a new prime minister may be anointed without the bother of a general election. There, unlike here, that would probably further stoke the fires of popular discontent.

Either way, sooner or later (which means in 2018) the main opposition, the Five Star movement, could be elected promising a referendum on membership of the euro, if not the European Union itself.

Read full article Could the European Union fall apart?

How will Trump seek to unite the US?

Donald Trump waves to the crowd as he leaves the New York Times building following a meeting Image copyright AP

Mario Cuomo's old saying is so true it is a cliche: "You campaign in poetry, govern in prose." Donald Trump has gone one better: he campaigned in brimstone, he is preparing to govern in bromides.

Some of the old fire is there: he condemned Castro, hours after the old man's death, as a brutal dictator, while US President Barack Obama took refuge in allowing history to make the call. Mr Trump does not wait on history to tell him what he thinks.

Read full article How will Trump seek to unite the US?

What will Philip Hammond reveal about Theresa May's Brexit plans?

Chancellor Philip Hammond and Prime Minister Theresa May Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The chancellor's first Autumn Statement may reveal the prime minister's real Brexit strategy

You may not have noticed it yet, but next week's Autumn Statement will be a big test of the prime minister's seriousness.

Theresa May is making an extraordinary claim - to be the Western leader who gets the zeitgeist, who has the answers others are too timid to grasp, without being so headstrong that she threatens the whole system of world capitalism.

Read full article What will Philip Hammond reveal about Theresa May's Brexit plans?

What links Trump's victory and Brexit?

Media captionNigel Farage campaigned for Donald Trump

"It'll be Brexit plus plus plus!" said Donald Trump. It was. If Brexit felt like a political earthquake, the election of this populist president was off the seismic scale, the continental plates shifting underneath the country which has defined our modern world.

Obama had that poster - "Hope" in cool colours. Trump paints in brasher, bolder strokes. His triumph is a release of pent-up anger but it is still about that same yearning for a change.

Read full article What links Trump's victory and Brexit?

US election: What happens if Donald Trump loses?

Donald Trump Image copyright Getty Images

One man has made this year's US presidential election the most extraordinary ever.

It has been an electric slugfest, democracy at its most vibrant and shameful.

Read full article US election: What happens if Donald Trump loses?

Turbulent times ahead for the cabinet?

Official portrait of the Cabinet at 10 Downing Street. 2016 Image copyright Zoe Norfolk via Prime Minister's Office

Top marks to Theresa May for pulling off the trick of appearing, for three months at least, briskly self-confident and robustly in charge.

Now it is starting to get difficult.

Read full article Turbulent times ahead for the cabinet?

Does Hitler's legacy still cast shadow over the world?

  • 21 October 2016
  • From the section Europe
The house of in which Adolf Hitler was born is seen in Braunau am Inn, Austria, on 24 September 2012 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The fate of the building in which Hitler was born in 1889 has long been a contentious issue

A pale lemon building in a pretty Austrian town awaits its fate, victim of evil's long shadow.

The 17th century inn at number 15 Salzburger Vorstadt in the border town of Braunau am Inn is where Hitler was born 127 years ago.

Read full article Does Hitler's legacy still cast shadow over the world?

Theresa May's parliamentary pickle

  • 15 October 2016
  • From the section Brexit
A European Union flag in front of Elizabeth Tower in Westminster Image copyright PA

How and when will the prime minister tell Parliament the government's strategy for leaving the European Union?

The players focus intently on their cards, holding them close to their chests as the betting gets tenser, the stakes higher.

Read full article Theresa May's parliamentary pickle

Theresa May and the charismatic clowns

Theresa May Image copyright Getty Images

Smart politicians ride the wave of the times, but the really special ones surf the coming curve, the wave of the future.

For years I have been watching and predicting the rise of those politicos who defy our stultifying times - who throw aside the conventions imposed by the media and their fellows and allow themselves to be themselves, whatever the risks.

Read full article Theresa May and the charismatic clowns

What Syria reveals about the new world order

The shadows of people on a Syrian national flag (21 September 2016) Image copyright Reuters

The Syrian civil war seems intractable, interminable, a torrent resulting from various polluted streams of histories - from the poorly thought-through Iraq invasion to the withered Arab Spring, from 14 centuries of sectarian conflict to the end of the Cold War.

But does it point the way to the future - perhaps not a future we might welcome, but a sign of the way the world is heading?

Read full article What Syria reveals about the new world order