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What are they after?

William Davies: How Could the Tories?, 8 March 2018

... they want, these Brexiteers? The fantasies of hardliners such as Liam Fox, Daniel Hannan and Jacob Rees-Mogg are based on dimly learned lessons from British history. The mantra of ‘Global Britain’ resurrects an ideal of laissez-faire from the era of Manchester cotton mills and New World slavery. Discussing the range of Brexit options at a Tory Conference ...

Leave, and Leave Again

William Davies: The Brexit Mentality, 7 February 2019

... things that could produce consensus between Jeremy Corbyn, Arlene Foster, Vince Cable and Jacob Rees-Mogg, but opposition to May’s deal was one. Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, responded to the result with a tweet urging the UK ‘to clarify its intentions as soon as possible’. But what if ‘the UK’ does not possess any ...

In Court

Stephen Sedley: The Prorogation Debacle, 10 October 2019

... it has to mean this. It is because in the years that followed the ousting of the Stuarts, as Sir William Anson neatly put it in The Law and Custom of the Constitution, the Crown ceased to govern through ministers and ministers began to govern through the Crown that an issue like the prorogation crisis has been able to arise. The role of the Privy ...

Choke Point

Patrick Cockburn: In Dover, 7 November 2019

... or the Maison Dieu, an extraordinary medieval hospice, restored by the great Victorian architect William Burges, which turns out to be open only on Wednesdays. To take in the impressive view from the Western Heights, visitors must first locate a narrow path leading from a nondescript car park to a disused gun platform; they don’t do so in droves. There are ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: Chicanery and Fantasy, 6 June 2019

... Peters, Minister of Religion’ in 1983, getting seven questions right on his chosen subject (William Temple, former archbishop of Canterbury) and nine wrong. He claimed, falsely, to have written a book called Know Yourself. Simon Winchester blurbs Sisman’s book as an ‘utterly mad and wholly delightful story of chicanery and fantasy … which involves ...

Memories are made of this

Patricia Beer, 16 December 1993

Aren’t We Due a Royalty Statement? 
by Giles Gordon.
Chatto, 352 pp., £16.99, August 1993, 0 7011 6022 5
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Yesterday Came Suddenly 
by Francis King.
Constable, 336 pp., £16.95, September 1993, 9780094722200
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Excursions in the Real World 
by William Trevor.
Hutchinson, 201 pp., £16.99, September 1993, 0 09 177086 6
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... like that. He laughs in the wrong place at a friend’s poetry reading. He giggles at names like Rees-Mogg, and splits his sides at the list of those who supported Count Tolstoy (ha ha) in the recent painful court case: Prince Dmitri Galitzine, for instance, and Princess Tatiana Metternich (ho ho). He finds his jokes good enough to repeat, like the one about ...

A Smile at My Own Temerity

John Barrell: William Hogarth, 16 February 2017

William Hogarth: A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings 
by Elizabeth Einberg.
Yale, 432 pp., £95, November 2016, 978 0 300 22174 9
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... debatable. The OED defines it, capaciously enough, as ‘of, relating to, or characteristic of William Hogarth or his style; resembling or characteristic of the subjects depicted in Hogarth’s work’, and explains that ‘much of the work of Hogarth is characterised by the use of satire to examine questions of morality, and often features vivid ...

What Is He Supposed To Do?

David Cannadine, 8 December 1994

The Prince of Wales 
by Jonathan Dimbleby.
Little, Brown, 620 pp., £20, November 1994, 0 316 91016 3
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... confident that she will finally triumph when at some future date she sees her son crowned as King William V. If Charles was an authentically noble or heroic figure, it might be possible to agree with him that he is trapped in a latterday Greek tragedy. As it is, the spectacle of these two sad, spoiled, solipsistic individuals slugging it out in public via ...

Why we go to war

Ferdinand Mount, 6 June 2019

... to protect or nurture the Indian textile industry against the competition from Lancashire, Lord William Bentinck lamented that ‘the misery hardly finds parallel in the history of commerce. The bones of the cotton weavers are bleaching the plains of India.’ It is of the essence of imperial power, old-style or new-style, that it accepts no formal ...

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