Eliot Wilson

Eliot Wilson was a clerk in the House of Commons 2005-16, including on the Defence Committee. He is a member of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

Is Whitehall ready for war?

James Heappey, who will soon step down as Conservative MP for Wells after nearly a decade, may have won more column inches in the last fortnight than the rest of his career combined. In March, he resigned as minister for the armed forces, a post he had held since 2020, and now that he is

The recklessness of William Wragg

Everyone makes mistakes, but they are seldom as monumental as William Wragg’s. The Tory MP has admitted handing over the phone numbers of colleagues to a man he met on Grindr, a gay dating app. The vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee said he offered up the details after sending intimate pictures of himself. Wragg deserves

Nato’s unhappy birthday

Nato marks its 75th birthday today, but the alliance is in no mood for celebration.  At its foundation, and for much of its lifetime, Nato worked well. On 4 April 1949, representatives of a dozen countries signed the North Atlantic treaty in Washington DC ‘to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded

Donaldson’s fall is a challenge for the future of the DUP

The news that Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party, had been arrested and charged with rape and other historical sexual offences, was a rare moment of genuine shock in politics. Politicians on all sides have been scrabbling to respond, to understand what has happened and what it means for the DUP

Can Britain afford Trident?

The prime minister is in Cumbria today, visiting Barrow-in-Furness to announce a ‘national endeavour’ to support the defence and civil nuclear industry. This includes a partnership with companies including BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, EDF and Babcock to invest more than £760 million in skills, jobs and education over the next six years. The Barrow Transformation Fund

Nike should leave the St George’s Cross alone

England’s football kit has changed dramatically over the years but one feature typically remains unchanged: the cross of St George. Nike, which is designing the England kit for this summer’s Euro 2024 tournament in Germany, has redesigned the red and white flag in navy, light blue and purple. Why did it think doing so was

Is this the beginning of the end for Humza Yousaf?

Humza Yousaf might have hoped for a better week. On Wednesday, the First Minister gave a speech at the European Institute of the London School of Economics, setting out why Scotland’s economic future would be brighter if it was an independent country. Some in the room were enthusiastic, but the Scotsman quietly drew attention to

What Rishi Sunak got wrong about Lee Anderson

Lee Anderson’s defection from the Tories to Reform UK was hardly a surprise. In fact, it seemed almost inevitable. But that Anderson rose to the position he did within the Conservative party to become deputy chairman, before flouncing out, raises questions about Sunak’s political judgement. Anderson became an emblem of the Red Wall, yet is

Will Republican leaders apologise over ‘Stakeknife’?

‘Stakeknife’, a double agent who was an informant for the British Army while working within the innermost counsels of the Provisional IRA, probably cost more lives than he saved. That is the damning verdict of Operation Kenova, which has spent seven years – and £40 million – probing whether Stakeknife was effectively permitted to kill

The flaw in the SNP’s plan to ‘build a new Scotland’

The SNP seems determined not to stick to the day job of actually running the country. Scotland’s government this week launched a publication called ‘Building a New Scotland: an independent Scotland’s Place in the World’. It set out policies for something that doesn’t exist – an independent Scotland – in areas in which the devolved

The speech that reveals the DUP’s radical shift

The Democratic Unionist Party is nothing if not intransigent. For many years, the DUP provided a masterclass in judging the past, and tying it round the neck of the future. Its founder, Ian Paisley, was best known for uttering the same word three times: ‘Never! Never! Never!’. But now that the party has once again

Chaos in the Commons benefits the SNP

Wednesday’s chaotic procedures in the House of Commons have handed an enormous soapbox to the SNP’s Stephen Flynn. The MP for Aberdeen South, who has led the Scottish National Party’s Westminster group since December 2022, has been intoning gravely that the debate ‘descended into farce’ and, with suppressed fury, told the speaker that he no

How Britain helped Robert Mugabe rise to power

A century ago today, Robert Mugabe was born. The man who would come to rule over Zimbabwe between 1980 and 2017 was a brutal and autocratic tyrant. Mugabe shattered his country’s economy, oversaw vicious human rights abuses and left public services, especially healthcare, in ruins. But while Britain would ultimately see Mugabe as an adversary,

Why Denmark is sending all its artillery to Ukraine

The Munich Security Conference has been nicknamed the ‘Davos of defence’. Every year, politicians, security analysts, military leaders and campaigners assemble at the five-star Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Germany’s third city for a couple days of schmoozing, networking and lecturing. When this year’s conference concluded on Sunday, the Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen played an

Britain can no longer defend itself

When the Berlin Wall fell, the British Army had 152,800 soldiers. Tony Blair’s government cut this to 110,000; David Cameron’s reduced it to 87,000. Plans to let that number fall to 82,000 were accelerated by the former defence secretary Ben Wallace. It’s generally accepted that by next year numbers will have dropped to 72,500. That’s

Can Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill save Northern Ireland?

The appointment of a new executive by the Northern Ireland Assembly on Saturday was a hugely significant moment. There was no government at Stormont for exactly two years from 3 February 2022 until Michelle O’Neill of Sinn Féin accepted the assembly’s nomination to be first minister at the weekend. She is the first Republican leader

Jacques Delors: an unlikely Brexit hero

‘Up yours, Delors!’ It was the perfect headline for the Sun: crude, defiant, unambiguous and directed at a Frenchman. The paper’s front page on 1 November 1990 called on ‘its patriotic family of readers to tell the filthy French to FROG OFF!’ The tabloid was asking its readers to turn towards France at noon the following

The truth about Ireland’s Troubles amnesty law challenge

Christmas is a time when those who are closest to each other fight most bitterly. Ireland, which is bringing a legal case against the UK under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), appears to be acting in the spirit of the season. The country’s deputy prime minister Micheál Martin announced yesterday that his government