London’s omicron epidemic shows there are reasons to be optimistic

The latest data on omicron appears to be promising. The cases data suggests, tentatively, that the wave might have peaked in London, at it has now clearly peaked in various parts of South Africa. Detailed analyses of the action of... Read more

Where is the modelling for the societal consequences of lockdown?

Concerns around the Government’s Covid advice are nothing new. Since the first lockdown in 2020 a number of people have wondered how the advice on the potential impacts of policies was put together. The mantra that we “follow the science”... Read more

Nodding donkeys of Holyrood are giving Boris Johnson’s Tories a lesson in party unity

However, there’s no doubt that the FM has the PM over a barrel when it comes to dishing out the Covid restrictions. For a start, he has a Cabinet where there is a sizable proportion of genuine dissidents – senior... Read more

In times of pandemic, we neglect the arts at our peril

If you wish to win friends and influence people, you must woo them with the perfect combination of logic and empathy, Aristotle tells us. I have used this division between logos and pathos to highlight the imbalance between our consideration... Read more

We must stop the perpetual spiral of restrictions

The ministerial backlash against new pre-Christmas Covid controls marks a welcome reassertion of Cabinet government and is a further sign of Boris Johnson’s waning authority. Urged on by scientific advisers worried about a January surge, the Prime Minister was minded... Read more

Boris Johnson made the right decision in saving Christmas from another lockdown

It cannot have been easy for the Prime Minister, but he has made the right decision in ruling out further restrictions before Christmas. His intervention earlier in the week had thrown millions of people’s plans into confusion, since he had... Read more

I’m fed up with the unvaccinated rump who risk pushing us back into lockdown

If the country is experiencing a distinct sense of Yuletide déjà vu, it is hardly surprising. In the run-up to last Christmas the Government issued a warning that a new variant of Covid-19 was “out of control” and that people... Read more

Europe’s energy crisis is fast turning into a political and strategic disaster

Day-ahead electricity prices have exploded to €431 MWh in Germany, and to €443 in France, testing the viability of the steel, aluminium, cement, and chemical sectors. “We’re way past the point where these industries are uneconomic. They will have to... Read more

My cheering Christmas message? It’s time for humanity to prevail over scientists

This Christmas, if the Archangel Whitty hasn’t cancelled the festive season, cautioning against the reckless and unnecessary consumption of sausage rolls, there will be a Covid swear-box at Pearson Towers. Anyone who mentions the wretched virus must put 50p in... Read more

Philip: Prince, Husband, Father review: a fitting tribute for the most honest member of the monarchy

Towards the end of Philip: Prince, Husband, Father (ITV), contributor Gyles Brandreth was asked what the Duke of Edinburgh would have made of this documentary. He imagined the Duke would have said: “Another stupid programme. Why aren’t you living your... Read more

Solomons Knot do Bach proud at the Wigmore Hall, plus the best of December’s classical concerts

With two Hungarian composers on the bill, it seemed a safe bet that Thursday night’s concert from the London Symphony Orchestra would offer a pleasurable immersion in pure Magyar fire and spice. But in music as in culture generally, nothing... Read more

Tuesday evening UK news briefing: Nicola Sturgeon cancels New Year celebrations

It comes as pubs, restaurants and leisure businesses hit by omicron losses will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 in a £1bn Christmas aid package announced by Rishi Sunak.  The Chancellor said some 200,000 hospitality and leisure... Read more

Nicola Sturgeon’s Christmas Covid rules a ‘hammer blow to Scottish pubs’

All of the major Hogmanay events in Edinburgh, including the street party, the torch-lit procession and the midnight firework display, were cancelled. New Year celebrations in other towns and cities, including Aberdeen, were also scrapped. In football, Celtic asked for... Read more

Boris Johnson brings glad tidings for Christmas (but perhaps not New Year)

Mr Johnson’s announcement came after days of speculation that England could introduce further Covid restrictions in the run-up to Christmas. In a video statement, he said: “There is no doubt that omicron continues to surge with a speed unlike anything... Read more

A year on from the Brexit trade deal, the doom-mongers got it so wrong

The ports would be plunged into chaos. Stranded lorries would turn Kent into a giant car park. The supermarkets would run out of food, the factories would run out of parts, and our export industries would be blown apart.  Only... Read more

Liz Truss sticks to Lord Frost’s guns with echo of Margaret Thatcher ‘not for turning’

The Foreign Secretary has modelled herself on Mrs Thatcher, her political hero, most recently being pictured riding in a tank 35 years after the former prime minister posed for a similar photograph. Allies of Ms Truss said she was keen... Read more

Bullseye! What happens when politicians lose the crowd

Paul Goodman, the former Conservative MP for Wycombe and now editor of ConservativeHome, says: “I think a leadership challenge is more likely than not. At the heart of the problem is the idea that MPs have to go over the... Read more

Met refers itself to police watchdog over handling of Downing Street Christmas party allegations

The Met Police said they were aware of the footage and allegations in relation to alleged breaches of coronavirus restrictions, but that they would not retrospectively investigate such events. On December 6, Baroness Jones wrote to the IOPC to complain... Read more

Sorry, Prime Minister. The party’s over

Whenever I read about the seemingly continuous scenes of bacchanalian revelry in Downing Street over the past 18 months, one question above all keeps popping into my mind. Exactly whose job is it to come up with Downing Street’s excuses?... Read more

The Covid modelling industry is biased towards doom

The latest SAGE doom modelling suggests that Omicron could kill up to 6,000 people-a-day. This arrives just in time to propel some members of the Cabinet into pushing for another “circuit breaker” lockdown. As the saying goes, the worst thing... Read more

The real reason David Frost’s exit should worry Boris

Despite his name, is Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, a snowflake? It is a good general rule that unless ministers must leave the Cabinet, they must not. Family or health reasons, a serious matter of principle or simply not being... Read more

Covid self-isolation period could be cut from 10 days to seven to help NHS staffing crisis

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, declared a “major incident” on Saturday after discussions with NHS London, local councils and other emergency and essential services on the impact of the virus on their workers. Desperate business leaders have also called for... Read more

The best places to downsize to, with doctors, green spaces and amenities in walking distance

But in relative terms, this is a bargain. Downsizers buying in central London are moving at the perfect time to take advantage of pandemic price trends. Claire Reynolds, of Savills’ Mayfair office, said: “We see downsizers primarily from north west... Read more

Avoid falling into a tax trap when giving gifts this Christmas

Christmas is a time for giving presents to our family and friends. It is also a time to think of those worse off than ourselves and to support our chosen charities.  There are also tax implications to consider when making... Read more

Questor: accelerating earnings growth and a better valuation could drive capital gains from S&N

For a company whose market value is more than £10bn that does not really move the dial and is almost neither here nor there from the point of view of this column, which is more interested in security of dividends.... Read more