How a UKIP exodus could challenge Labour's heartlands

A couple enter a temporary polling station Image copyright Getty Images

The jovial Conservative Party chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin is deep in what should be enemy territory, the market square in Mansfield in Nottinghamshire. He bumps into one man who could have been sent by Central Office, if not central casting.

"I was brought up in a mining village, Mum and Dad always voted Labour, but I've started to see a bit of sense. You've got to trust Theresa May, haven't you?"

When the scrum moves on, he tells me he used to like UKIP but Mrs May has something about her. Jeremy Corbyn? "Wouldn't trust him as far as you could throw him."

The square is dominated by a Victorian monument, empty within because the donations ran out before they could afford to build the statue of the aristocrat it was meant to celebrate.

The stalls carry all sorts of goods, from potted plants to mobility scooters, knickers to knick-knacks. One sells the local speciality of cold whelks and hot mushy peas (strange but delicious).

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Conservative Party chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin believes the party can take seats such as Mansfield

Read full article How a UKIP exodus could challenge Labour's heartlands

Jared Kushner: Who is the Trump whisperer?

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Media captionWhat does Jared Kushner want to achieve with his new-found power?

Some White House watchers have noted that weekends can be tricky for President Donald Trump.

A number of crises have blown up on a Friday and not been sorted out until Sunday.

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Decoding Russia's response to Johnson's cancelled trip

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Russian embassy in London called Mr Johnson's cancellation deplorable and absurd

The Russians have reacted with a mixture of contempt and fury to the cancellation of the foreign secretary's trip to Moscow.

It suggests they do, perhaps surprisingly, care quite a lot about it.

Read full article Decoding Russia's response to Johnson's cancelled trip

Brexit negotiations: How will Poland behave towards the UK?

  • 6 April 2017
  • From the section Europe
A bus bound for London at Warsaw's Zachodnia bus station Image copyright Getty Images

Zachodnia bus station in Warsaw is big, bustling and busy.

People laden with 57 varieties of luggage - from smart suitcases to supermarket bags tied together with string - queue in the spring sunshine, passports open, tickets in their hands.

Read full article Brexit negotiations: How will Poland behave towards the UK?

Could Brexit mean a referendum in Northern Ireland?

A woman with a pushchair walks past murals on the Falls road in west Belfas Image copyright Getty Images

On the Falls Road, heart of Republican Belfast. there's a new sense of purpose. Sinn Fein pulled the plug on Stormont, did well in the elections and are now, like the Scottish government, demanding a referendum on their future destiny.

Brexit - rejected by 55.8% of voters in Northern Ireland - is seen as just the latest imposition by England.

Read full article Could Brexit mean a referendum in Northern Ireland?

The May hegemony: How long can it last?

Theresa May Image copyright Getty Images

Mrs May did not sprawl on the Royal throne to glare at their lordships. She merely glowered from its steps. The heralds might call it "the perch presumptive". But she might as well have done so: she is queen of all she surveys. The Copeland by-election has established the May hegemony. How long it lasts is another matter.

Her power is unchallenged. There is little serious opposition within her once fractious party and little outside it at the moment, at least not in England.

Read full article The May hegemony: How long can it last?

Facing the robotic revolution

Pepper Robot Image copyright Getty Images

Pepper awakes. "Hi, I am a humanoid robot, and I am 1.2m [4ft] tall. I was born at Aldebaran in Paris. You can keep on asking me questions if you want."

Michael Szollosy, who looks at the social impact and cultural influence of robots, has just switched on the new arrival at the Sheffield Robotics centre, at the University of Sheffield.

Read full article Facing the robotic revolution

The Netherlands' populist moment?

  • 13 February 2017
  • From the section Europe
The flag of the Netherlands Image copyright JERRY LAMPEN/AFP/Getty Images

I ask the Dutch ruling party's Europe spokesman what the election next month is about. "Identity," he replies without hesitation.

I try to ask his leader, the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, about their strategy.

Read full article The Netherlands' populist moment?

Trump and Obama: Two characters in search of a legacy

Donald Trump and Barack Obama shake hands in the White House Image copyright JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

So the pendulum swings again. They are polar opposites, inversions, thesis and antithesis, from the skinny kid with the funny name to the old guy with the funny hair, chalk to his cheese. It says a lot about the Disunited States of America that two such different brands are its best-selling political products.

In his final week, President Barack Obama's many admirers are determined to behave with the brittle exaggerated optimism of mourners at a wake, determined to celebrate the achievements of a dear friend, rather than wail over his absence. They may even convince you it is hope that makes their eyes glisten so brightly.

Read full article Trump and Obama: Two characters in search of a legacy

Donald Trump: The view from Detroit

A Dodge Viper goes through assembly at the Viper Assembly Plant in Detroit, Michigan Image copyright Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Can Donald Trump make America not just great again, but make it gleam and bring the shine of steel back to the rustbelt?

In the past I have driven through some of the areas so described and its no idle metaphor. There are mile upon mile of oxidised, red metal skeletons, dead factories entombing dead jobs, dead hopes.

Read full article Donald Trump: The view from Detroit