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Will things in Europe have to get worse before they can get better?

The historian Arnold Toynbee characterised civilisation as “a movement and not a condition, a voyage and not a harbour.” By necessity, civilisations are curious, forward- and outward-looking, and animated by the belief that their best days are still ahead of them. Seen through that prism, Europe is in trouble. According to a new report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), almost half of Germans and Swedes (47% and 44%, respectively) believe that things will take a turn for the worse over... Read More >

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What Jordan Peterson gets wrong about the Nordic gender paradox In countries with a more limited welfare state, more women rise to managerial positions
The Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson received considerable attention when he visited Stockholm recently. He was told to “crawl back under a rock” by Sweden’s Foreign Minister and engaged in a heated discussion about the paradox of Read More >
Why is everyone so obsessed with Sweden? Sweden's many contradictions makes it an easy target
From education and immigration to taxation and even road safety, there seems to be no end to the examples we Swedes offer the rest of the world. But what is it that is so uniquely fascinating about my homeland – and how relevant is the way Read More >
Abstract digital numbers Why the bankers won’t bail out May’s Brexit deal Four key reasons the markets will not help Theresa May with Brexit
As things stand, Theresa May’s Brexit deal seems very unlikely to pass. Though there is some evidence that the public has become a bit more supportive since its strongly negative initial reaction, the Withdrawal Agreement does not currently Read More >
Is Trump’s nuclear stance a grand plan or a reckless gamble? Trump sold himself as a deal maker but is turning out to be a deal breaker
Donald Trump likes to shoot from the hip. It has helped him consolidate domestic support, bring North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to the negotiating table, and has led America’s main strategic rival – China – to reassess how it engages with Read More >
Maritime ties pave the way for an even closer US-UK trading relationship The US-UK relationship has promoted free trade not only across the Atlantic, but all over the world
The United States and the United Kingdom are, and long have been, two countries divided by sea but united politically, culturally, economically and militarily. Recently we were in New York to ensure a prosperous future by strengthening what Read More >
Strangely, building more homes does reduce a housing shortage The idea the UK has a shortage of land to build on is completely bogus
Why can’t you afford a home? UCL researcher Josh Ryan-Collins says it is due to inevitable landowner profits from land, to a majority of homeowners blocking fair taxation of those profits, and to excessive mortgage credit. His new book is Read More >
A US-UK trade deal built on trust would set an example to the world Britain should seize the mantle of global champion of free trade
It’s official. We are most definitely not at the ‘back of the queue’ when it comes to a trade deal with the United States. Actually, we’re at the front. Well, we’re technically third if you take it in order of the letters released Read More >
What next for the BREXIT deal? The latest position as of 10am Thursday 15th of November
Few MPs disagree with Jo Johnson’s assessment that Mrs May’s Brexit Deal is a failure of British statecraft on a scale not seen since Suez. What divides them is where to go from here. Remainers recognise that the current proposal is not Read More >
Fight or business class flight? The WHO needs to get its priorities straight The World Health Organization has big questions to answer about its spending
Expensive hotels, beach resorts, and staggering travel costs: the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) would have some tough questions to answer, if only the countries that funded it would ask them. Unfortunately, the United Kingdom happily Read More >
What does your choice of breakfast say about your politics? Why asking what people have for breakfast shows the broader dilemmas facing pollsters
“What did you have for breakfast this morning?” That’s something that broadcast media guests get asked surprisingly often. It’s also the reason why Angela Eagle, much to the confusion of Twitter, began an interview about her withdrawal Read More >
Do we get more Eurosceptic with age? That all depends… Age matters when it comes to voting - but it isn't everything
It’s a truism that people get more conservative as they get older. A corollary of that is that older people tend to be more Eurosceptic – something emphatically borne out by the results of the Brexit referendum. Among the arguments pushed Read More >
The Conservatives would be rewarded at the ballot box for making work pay No one should ever have to pay more than half of the next pound the they earn in tax
If the Conservatives want to win the next election, then they are going to need a story to tell voters that will appeal not only to their minds but also to their hearts. There is no point making the case for a slimmer state, lower taxes, or Read More >
People want to live in town centres – finally the Government is letting them Under the radar, the Budget has given a big boost to town centres
A lesser spotted announcement in the recent Budget was a commitment to ensure that empty lots on high streets — flats above shops and disused malls — could be transferred quickly to housing. It’s a war I’ve been waging for a decade. Read More >
Bavaria’s election shows the good old days of German politics are over Bavaria was always an unlikely place for a political revolt, but it got one anyway
Under long-time Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany had always been used to stability. Regardless of which political crises would hit its neighbours and other countries in the world, it was guaranteed that in Germany, the government would stand Read More >
Britain should take the global lead in the fight for biodiversity The UK should spend 10 per cent of its aid budget boosting biodiversity
I have a pair of lucky underpants. They were acquired during an encounter with a Sumatran rhino called Rosa who had become accustomed to human contact. A team from the International Rhino Foundation, including me, was despatched to the jungles of Read More >
Cuts to council budgets are no bad thing if they make local authorities up their game It's high time local authorities were made to compete with each other on tax and services
A newly released paper from the University of Cambridge makes interesting reading on fiscal devolution and the relationship between the state and local authorities. The research makes clear that the local authorities which have made the Read More >
Village with fields in the distance The moral bankruptcy of pretending to rebalance the British economy People move around the UK far less than they used to - and it's seriously damaging our economy
A disturbing new trend has emerged. Faced with strong evidence from the US of the terrible damage to welfare and GDP from our long-term failure to build enough homes with access to jobs and opportunities, the beginnings of a counter-revolution Read More >
There’s no room for complacency on Britain’s public finances Britain cannot afford to substantially loosen the purse strings
In her speech at Conservative Party Conference at the start of the month, the Prime Minister announced “an end to austerity”. In policy terms, this message has been the main focus of the post-conference talk for the commentariat. With polls Read More >
Ignore the hysteria. Universal Credit is working Universal Credit should not be scrapped - but it does need more money
Universal Credit was recently at the top of the news agenda thanks to a leaked Cabinet briefing and John Major comparing it to the Poll Tax. This time, the Department for Work and Pensions say that lone working-age parents could be £200 worse Read More >
Romer and Nordhaus: Worthy Nobel winners and apostles of progress Romer and Nordhaus's work is a testament to human ingenuity
Earlier this month, William Nordhaus and Paul Romer were awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. Nordhaus, the Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University, is best known for his work in economic modelling and climate change. Romer, who Read More >
Public opinion is much less volatile than you think British political polls are in an especially stable period
With conference season over, we’re beginning to get the first indications of how the annual party gatherings affected voting intention. Much has been said and written, but what did the public actually make of it all? The three polls we have Read More >
Green Party policies would give us less leisure time – not more Specialisation and greater productivity, not government edict, give us leisure time
According to the Green Party, we should have a new economic target: leisure time. This, they argue, should be a formal measure of the economy. Our free time should be measured on an annual basis and be continually rising. And why not? Leisure Read More >
Plummeting maternal mortality rates are a sure sign of human progress The global maternal death rate fell from 385 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 216 in 2015
When Lady Sybil, a wealthy British aristocrat in the popular television shown Downton Abbey, died of eclampsia during an episode set in 1920, it was a reminder of the progress that mankind has been made on maternal mortality. Despite being able Read More >
Abstract arrows and numbers Lies, damn lies and statistics – how dodgy figures feed fake news Ministers misusing statistics undermines people's faith in government
As soldiers in a war of words go, the head of the UK Statistics Authority might seem an unlikely candidate. But recently Sir David Norgrove came out swinging over the cavalier use of figures by Education Secretary Damian Hinds. Sir David Read More >
If Theresa May truly admired free markets she would embrace Canada+ Theresa May claims to support free markets - Chequers suggests the opposite is true
The one thing that stood out in Theresa May’s recent Conservative conference speech was her praise of free markets. In a hall erupting with applause, the Prime Minister noted “free markets are the greatest agent of collective human progress Read More >
The Brexit migration report: one step forward, two steps back A new report is clear - Immigration has not damaged the British economy
After more than a year of waiting, the Migration Advisory Committee’s report on our post-Brexit immigration system is finally here. Its publication is timely, in the sense that immigration has for too long been on the back burner in the Read More >
The Brexit that could bypass us all The economy will roll on
The most common question I am asked as a political consultant is “How is all this going to play out?” Any answer can of course be dismissed as pure conjecture and no prediction will turn out to be 100 per cent correct. But by talking to Read More >
When it comes to fake news, politicians should trust the people Politicians should not to succumb to the panic over fake news
Various shrill reports have been warning about a new crisis of “fake news” that imperils our democratic process. Damian Collins, the Tory MP who chairs the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee Select Committee, declares that it Read More >
Prime Minister Imran Khan is the last thing Pakistan needs Imran Khan is no liberal
Pity Pakistan. In recent weeks it has suffered one of its worst ever terrorist attacks, with 149 people blown to bits. The rupee is crashing as the economy teeters on the brink of a debt crisis. And the country has been put on an international Read More >
A Busman’s Holiday for MPs This has been a term that will long be remembered for its unusually bitter in-fighting and rancorous debate
As any parent of school-age children will recognise, the end of term sometimes cannot come quickly enough. Theresa May clearly felt the same last week, given the Government’s abortive attempt to hasten the start of the summer recess. This has Read More >
Local government must be more than just a branch of Whitehall Metro mayors offer a striking example of what can be achieved by devolving more power
Up and down the country people are beginning to worry about the death of local government. Bus services are less frequent, accessing health and social care is becoming more difficult, and high streets shops are closing down. Local councils face Read More >
Under Sánchez, Spain looks set for a slippery slope to economic decline Sánchez's socialist policies will undo all of the work from past years which ushered in an era of prosperity
Politics is the art of spending regardless of whether there is money to do so. This seems to be the motto of Pedro Sánchez, the new prime minister of Spain, who has recently revealed his intentions to boost public spending until the end of his Read More >
With Brexit, Britain can show the world the path to prosperity Brexit is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show to the world an alternate path to global prosperity
“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves Read More >
A changing Supreme Court could herald the end of big-state liberalism Should he win a second term, Trump might get to nominate three Supreme Court justices
The retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court, and the imminent nomination of his replacement by Donald Trump, confirm that the United States has entered a new era. Or rather, it has left an old one. We might or might not be Read More >
The public sector needs an automation revolution Automation is already improving public services around the world
The majority of people accept that we need to pay tax. However, we do so on the reasonable expectation that this money will be used to provide high-quality public services. In reality though, this contract between the public and the state is Read More >
Philip Hammond: The lonely fiscal conservative The chancellor seems to be the only person in government sticking up for taxpayers
Reading the Sunday papers can’t have been fun for Philip Hammond. After weeks of pressure from the health secretary and Number 10, it seems the chancellor has been forced to allow a big new spending pledge on the NHS to go ahead without any Read More >
Why the EEA isn’t the answer to the Brexit conundrum EEA membership would minimise disruption but come at a high price
No matter how many times the Government rejects it, the idea that the UK will remain a Single Market member after leaving the European Union refuses to wither and die. Those against Brexit, or for reducing its risks, argue that the Referendum Read More >
A pragmatic plan for Brexit The customs union is not a solution to the Irish border problem
There really only are two different ways of implementing Brexit. The first is for the UK to simply leave. No deal, no negotiations. That this would be a costly option should be obvious. One estimate puts that cost at half a million jobs in Read More >
Beware the ‘margin of error’ poll fallacy Uncertainty over party support is down to much more than random error
Anyone who pays even a passing attention to opinion polls will have heard about the margin of error. For those of us who use social media regularly, it’s very often cited by someone trying to downplay a poll move or finding that’s Read More >
Remainer scaremongering is still built on dodgy economics Once again, the Treasury has overestimated the cost of Brexit
I recently gave evidence to the House of Commons International Trade Select Committee on the economic effects of trade policy, alongside my Economists for Free Trade colleague Professor Patrick Minford. As written evidence, I submitted a report Read More >
Is Britain finally getting tough on Russian oligarchs? The UK has, until recently, welcomed oligarchs with open arms
Roman Abramovich’s visa issues will set alarm bells ringing for his fellow oligarchs. For years, this group of extraordinary rich politically-connected business owners have jet-setted between Russia and the West. They have enjoyed the fruits Read More >
John McDonnell’s claim of a ‘wrong turn’ in Venezuela is nonsense If only John McDonnell had been right about the Venezuelan government 'betraying' socialism
Venezuela is “experiencing problems”, because the country has taken a “wrong turn”, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell remarked over the weekend. That is a bit of an understatement, but I suppose we can agree on his basic Read More >
Switzerland offers some valuable lessons for Brexit The British economy is the same size as the 19 smallest EU countries put together
It’s hard to ignore Switzerland’s experience when looking at Brexit. Here we have another country that isn’t a member of the European Union, the single market or a customs union. It’s also a country that trades heavily with the EU. And Read More >
The future of the Union is about more than whingeing Jocks Brexit has made a complicated issue even more difficult
It’s proving rather complicated, this Union thing, isn’t it? It was complicated enough when us Scots voted on independence to a mixed southern chorus of “please don’t go!” and “good riddance!” It’s only got more tangled since, Read More >
RIP Tom Wolfe — the writer who exposed the hypocrisy of the Left Wolfe gave a sense of the harm that comes from indulging terrorist groups
Tom Wolfe didn’t just provide us with enjoyable books to read, noble accomplishment as that is. He helped us understand the world. Wolfe’s insights made explicable the flaws in our fellow man which were hitherto puzzling. Most particularly he Read More >
The dead hand of the state – not capitalism – has failed young people The local elections show a pro-freedom, low-tax message can resonate with voters
As members of the Conservative Party under the age of 50, we are a rare breed. We’ve lost count of how many times we’ve been asked why we vote Conservative — and not Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, who are “clearly so much better for young Read More >
It is official – Brexit squabbling is damaging the economy Brexit extremists on both sides seem oblivious to the damage they are doing
The British economy is slowing. There. I have said it. After repeatedly writing upbeat pieces for CapX to counter the doom and gloom mongers in the last two years, the facts are changing and so is my mind. I would go further and say that the Read More >
Trump won’t win the Nobel Peace Prize – whether or not he deserves it Trump's decision to dump the Iran deal could have been calculated to annoy the Nobel committee
There we have it. The date and time for Donald Trump’s meeting with the Kim Jong-un are set. It was announced when Trump’s newly appointed secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, returned from Pyongyang with three Americans who had been imprisoned Read More >
What happens to oil if Trump tears up the Iran deal? Why poor countries could be cheering Donald Trump if he tears up the Iran deal
For all Boris Johnson’s best efforts to persuade him otherwise, President Trump seems likely to pull the United States out of the 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This weekend Read More >
Marx’s defenders should explain why his ideas never actually work The anniversary of Marx's birth is another chance for misguided leftists to claim he was 'right' about capitalism
This week will mark the 200th birthday of Karl Marx. It will be an occasion for a deluge of articles repeating the well-worn cliché that even though Marx’s predictions ultimately did not materialise, his analysis of capitalism was nonetheless Read More >
Brussels still refuses to face up the fiscal reality of Brexit Brexit leaves a 97 billion euro hole in the EU budget
The EU budget frenzy of (at least) one year has officially begun. Today, the European Commission, led by Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger, revealed the first proposal for the upcoming multi-annual financial framework (MFF). This budget Read More >
The latest inside news from Westminster The decision to appoint Sajid Javid as Home Secretary was shrewd
The Prime Minister’s decision to appoint Sajid Javid to take over from Amber Rudd as Home Secretary was shrewd. He was the one member of the Cabinet with the credibility to defuse the Windrush scandal quickly, having himself been born to Read More >
A free trade future for Africa A pan-African free trade area has the potential to be bigger than the EU's single market
While President Trump has been preparing to rock the global trading system with aggressive moves to impose tariffs on Chinese imports, African leaders have been moving in a very different direction In February, under the auspices of the African Read More >
Tackling the myths about Brexit and the customs union Proposals to soften Brexit must be sustainable
Wild theories are doing the rounds about whether Britain should or should not join a permanent customs union with the EU after Brexit. Unsurprisingly, Remain supporters have leapt at the idea as a way to soften Brexit. Some even hope that it Read More >
The card that could help the UK boost ties with the Commonwealth Australia can show Brexit Britain the way to re-engage with the Commonwealth
This week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting comes at a crucial juncture for the UK’s future as a trading nation. Does Brexit change the way Britain should approach the Commonwealth and what can the government achieve in this meeting Read More >
Container ship in port The seductive simplicity of blaming Trump’s win on Cambridge Analytica Blaming bad news on nefarious forces
For the last two years, on both sides of the Atlantic, liberals and other concerned citizens have spent their time searching for an answer to the agonising, appalling, question “How did this happen?” How, for the love of God, could the United Read More >
Vintage suitcases in a pile What Britain can learn from Switzerland Switzerland's economy continued to be strong after it rejected EEA membership
When the UK voted to leave the European Union on June 23 2016, many people could not understand how David Cameron could have allowed such an important decision to be made by, of all people, the voters. Some saw the decision to call a referendum Read More >
Miniature toy house on plain white background Let the market fix the Tories’ housing problem Getting housing right is an existential matter for the Conservatives
During the 2015 General Election, Ed Miliband’s flagship pledge to cap energy prices was derided by conservatives as a deranged idea from the 1970s. The then-PM David Cameron accused “Red Ed” of “wanting to live in a Marxist universe”. Read More >
London skyline Chancellor left hoping that the doomsayers are wrong Recap of the Autumn Budget 2017 and what this means for Brexit
Over 24 hours and counting, and the Autumn Budget still hasn’t unravelled. These days that probably counts as a win. The newspaper coverage has predictably split along party lines, but the consensus seems to be that Philip Hammond played a bad Read More >
Blurred photograph of crowds walking through London The government is ignoring popular, easy fixes to the housing crisis The only way to fix the housing crisis is to make house building popular with local people
Horrified passengers suddenly realize their boat has a leak. They frantically start to paddle it with their hands towards a distant shore. The engine and sail sit ignored and unused. Meanwhile, someone at the stern refuses to raise the Read More >
Monopoly houses balanced on one pound coins Our sluggish planning system is to blame for high house prices The five-year stockpile of building land is caused by planning regulations
We’re told that there are near half a million planning permissions out there as yet unbuilt. Enough to keep the house-building industry going for five years – thus it it argued that it cannot be the planning permission system which causes Read More >
Britain will still do good business after Brexit Preparing for the post-Brexit era
The British Prime Minister Theresa May has been taking criticism, both at home and in EU circles, for being unable to answer precisely the question of what sort of relationship she wants the UK to have with the EU after it has ceased to be a Read More >
Cranes outlined against the sunset Land-banking is not to blame for the housing crisis Developers have little financial incentive to hold on to land; they do so because of restrictive planning laws
The government has found another way to put off ending the housing crisis: it is to launch a review into land-banking, and is expected to recommend a “use it or lose it” approach. It is the latest in a depressingly long list of Labour Read More >
Westminster tube station with Big Ben in the background The Prime Minister has bought herself time – but not yet political authority An update from among the parliamentarians
After nearly losing a general election that she did not need to call, last year ended with Mrs May pulling off the greatest coup of her Premiership. By stumping up enough money, she persuaded the EU that sufficient progress had been made to Read More >
Businessmen walking across a bridge Banks need to be on their best behaviour Having lost the respect of the politicians, testing times are ahead
It is no great revelation that the Cabinet is split on Brexit but the most fundamental split is not one that the mainstream press spends much time analysing. The big divide is between those Cabinet members who want a Canada-style free trade Read More >
Lightbulb on plain white background A tale of two parties Adrian Pepper reflects on the Labour and Conservative party conferences
What a contrast between the Labour and Conservative party conferences. One was more like a rock concert, the other a dull business convention. Labour members scent power and they are high on it. A palpable wave of excitement sweeps across the Read More >
Vintage illustration of an ornate staircase Housing is now at the top of the political agenda Our Westminster insider shares his thoughts on the latest political developments
Six months ago, building new homes for the British was heralded as one of the great crusades of Theresa May’s Conservative government. A housing green paper published in February led on the theme of looking after Generation Rent, with Read More >
Union Jack flag Cliff edges and slippery slopes: tough times lie ahead for the UK Our political insider on the last week in UK politics
For a whole week, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been out and about on the airwaves of the United Kingdom, attempting to talk up the prospect of a long transitional period for the UK-EU relationship after the UK’s membership of the EU Read More >
Close up view of Big Ben's clock tower A view from the inside Our political insider Adrian Pepper on the recent developments in Westminster
Despite some of the commentary and analysis of the few days since the UK general election, it is worth reminding ourselves of the result. The Labour party lost the general election and the Conservatives won, albeit that they lost their Read More >
Flatlay of laptop, diary, phone and coffee cup Fixing the broken housing market? Our political insider Adrian Pepper gives his view on recent developments in Westminster and the property markets
You wouldn’t think it from listening to the BBC, watching Sky News or ITN nor from reading the Daily Express. But as negotiations on Brexit continue, the UK and EU may find they can strike a grown up and wide-ranging deal after all. It Read More >

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