What is the Mona Lisa worth to France?

25 May

On 24 August 1939, the day after the Soviet foreign minister Molotov and his German counterpart von Ribbentrop signed the pact that gave Hitler free rein to attack the West, the Louvre director, Jacques Jaujard, ordered the museum to be closed for three days. Officially, for repair. In fact, for three days and three nights, […]

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By toutatis! Asterix is taking on Covid-19

21 May

Just as the coronavirus pandemic swept into Europe we lost the master illustrator Albert Uderzo, aged 92. He was of course the co-creator of Asterix, the plucky Gaul who holds out against the Roman conquest (with a gulp of magic potion to confer superman strength). If he himself had held out a week or so […]

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Can Emmanuel Macron reinvent himself?

21 Apr

Love him or hate him, you have to accept that Emmanuel Macron has an extraordinary capacity for thinking and talking. The French President’s vast interview with the Financial Times last week won headlines largely because of his warning of a possible “unravelling of the European Union”. That was just a tiny part of it. Macron […]

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Liam Fox: League tables, death rates, bed numbers – and other mistaken media measurements. Let’s stick to the facts.

20 Apr

Often, these are not only hugely inaccurate, but paint a damagingly distorted picture which can influence public opinion and, through doing so, public policy.

Will rural France recover from Covid?

17 Apr

Nobody talks in rural France anymore. We just shuffle silently to our cars, or around Intermarché, where the check-out staff, as well as wearing latex gloves and masks, stand behind the sort of glass screens you get in banks. Should you encounter, by chance, a neighbour, you wave from a distance along the aisle. Assuming, […]

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Liberté, égalité, and a Secular Ireland…

3 Apr

In France they have a law which has its written roots in 1905 but the principles steam back to the 1790 revolution which saw ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’ emblazoned into the national character and constitution of this large European nation. The law is called laïcité and it is at serious odds with Anglo-Saxon inherited concepts of what it is to be tolerant within a community. So much of our own understanding of modern Europe and modern Ireland stem from the thinking … Read more

‘I don’t want to get kicked out’: Brexit and the British in France

11 Mar

Almost four years after the referendum, many Britons living in France are still in the dark about what Brexit means for their future lives in France, writes Michaela Benson (Goldsmiths University of London). France hosts the second largest number of UK nationals in the EU27, and is home to approximately 150,000 Britons. Yet almost four years … Continued

Hard Elecxit: will Brexit increase the cost of electricity?

10 Mar

If Brexit leads to a withdrawal from the EU’s internal energy market, the UK’s unwillingness to cooperate with its neighbours will come at a very high price, warn Richard Green and Joachim Geske (Imperial College Business School). Amid the multitude of details that still need to be negotiated about the UK’s future relationship with the … Continued

Forget the Elgin Marbles — give the North East its treasures back

27 Feb

When Sutton Hoo reopened last summer following a seven-month-long, multi-million pound restoration, one crucial relic remained missing. Although the displays have been dramatically updated, and visitors to the site — the ship burial of a seventh century Anglo-Saxon king, Raedwald — can now see a full-size sculpture of the ship and better appreciate the lumpy […]

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We need to make Whitehall fit to run post-Brexit Britain

14 Jan

As Britain prepares to leave European Union, and to disengage with its administration and institutions, there will clearly need to be changes in the way the United Kingdom organises its own governmental structures. New roles and new responsibilities will require new ways of doing business. With a new government in place, with a strong mandate […]

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