Tag Archives: Spectator

Theresa May is warning Tory rebels that if Parliament gets a meaningful vote on Brexit, the European Union will be “incentivized” to offer the UK a “bad deal”. She is right, of course.

But that doesn’t mean the Prime Minister should dismiss the prospect of the House of Lords inflicting a second defeat on the government, with peers today set to back an amendment requiring Parliament to endorse the UK’s final Brexit deal. May should, in contrast, turn what seems like an inconvenience to her political and diplomatic advantage.

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‘Did you really deserve the Nobel prize?’ I ask Amartya Sen. ‘Why do you think you won?’ When you’re sitting opposite the world’s most respected living economist, at a time when the dismal science is under intense scrutiny, an opening question should be punchy.

Thankfully, Sen, an 83-year-old Harvard professor, has a sense of humour. ‘You can’t ask me that,’ he says while laughing warmly. ‘I have absolutely no idea why I won.’
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“Prefabs to solve housing crisis,” screamed the front page of The Sunday Telegraph last weekend. Can Britain’s housing crisis really so bad – that ministers are now floating plans to encourage the first new generation of temporary, pre-packed houses since the great reconstruction drive which followed the Second World War?

The UK is certainly in the midst of a housing shortage that numerous credible experts now describe as “chronic” and “acute”. While it’s widely recognised we need 250,000 new homes each year to meet population growth and household formation, house-building hasn’t reached that level since the late 1970s.

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What should we think about negative interest rates? What kind of Alice-in-Wonderland world are we living in when companies and households are paid to borrow and charged if they save?

Seemingly crazy, negative interest rates are spreading nonetheless. Implemented by central banks in Europe, Japan and elsewhere, they now apply in countries accounting for a quarter of the global economy. Should we be worried? Could we see negative rates in Britain?

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It has been a month since the UK voted to leave the European Union — but something is missing. Where is the economic collapse? What of EUpocalypse Now? Where is the Brexageddon that we were promised?

To the shock of many — not least business titans who bankrolled the Remain campaign — the instant collapse doesn’t seem to be happening. The UK economy is, for now at least, taking Brexit in its stride.
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Boris Johnson famously said Winston Churchill would have voted for Brexit. The wartime leader’s grandson – staunch Remainer and Tory grandee Nicholas Soames – dismissed such claims as “appalling” and “totally wrong”.

This bad-tempered referendum rift between two traditionalist, Etonian Conservatives symbolizes, somewhat incongruously perhaps, the broader state of the nation. Deep and traumatic divisions have emerged between friends and families everywhere – and, of course, within political parties.
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