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Katy Balls

Battle begins: inside Rishi Sunak’s plan to take on Labour

When David Laws moved in as chief secretary to the Treasury in 2010, he found a note from his predecessor Liam Byrne saying: ‘I’m afraid there is no money.’ It was the most famous parting gift in British political history. What was meant as a joke (Byrne had thought his friend Philip Hammond would get

Train wreck: HS2 destroyed the countryside I love

When I drive to see my parents in the once-peaceful farming country where I grew up, it is a strange, bittersweet experience. The car journey takes me through places I ought to recognise but I don’t any more, because the green fields of Warwickshire, the villages and the farms, are scarred by the tortuous works

Why are House of Lords clerics so anti-Tory?

The bishops can smell blood in the water. Sensing how badly the Conservatives are doing in the polls, the two archbishops and 24 bishops of the Church of England in the House of Lords appear to have thrown aside any pretence of political objectivity and impartiality and have pitched themselves all-out against the government. This

What really motivates the ‘new progressives’

Kemi Badenoch is right to say that Britain is not a racist country. The data simply does not support the claim that black and ethnic minority (BME) people in the UK are generally disadvantaged because of the racial prejudice of white Britons – that ‘systemic racism’ is the cause of the problem. It also suggests

Hell is a heat pump

‘So, as Rishi Sunak has announced that we’re now allowed to keep installing new gas boilers till 2035, and they last about 15 years, that means I’ll be able to keep a gas boiler till 2050, so I might even be allowed to die with a gas boiler still going in my house, and may

An ode to the BlackBerry

The demise of tech plays out first as disorientation, then entertainment. We’ve reached the latter stage with the BlackBerry, the now-defunct Canadian harbinger of global smartphone addiction. A new film out this month charts its spectacular rise and fall: young folk, look up from your iPhones, and learn how in its Noughties heyday, the BlackBerry

Women are obsessed with the Romans, too

Infamy! Infamy! That was my response to the TikTok trend about ancient Rome. Women asked their partners how often they thought about the Roman Empire. Many men admitted they thought about it every day; three times a day, said one. One confessed he was obsessed with ‘aqueducts and the fact that they had concrete that

The new age of gullibility

Is the Loch Ness Monster real? Many thousands of people think so. ‘Existence “plausible” after plesiosaur discovery,’ the BBC reported. ‘Hundreds join huge search for Loch Ness Monster.’ Not only that. The Beeb had live coverage of congressional hearings about possible UFO sightings in July. It ran a series on the yeti the previous month

Notes on...

The joy of ‘ugly’ Birkenstocks

Fifteen years ago, when I was a teenager, wearing Birkenstocks meant you were flatfooted or you had no interest in attention from men. While the rest of us clip-clopped around in heels, it was only a brave few who would choose the flat sandal. Your geography teacher might wear them, or your mum when she