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.

It has given a new momentum to their whole reason for existing: the belief the island of Ireland should be one country.

Everywhere down the Falls there are reminders of those who killed and died for a united Ireland: here a mural of a young man with a rifle, there a huge sepia portrait celebrating the provisional Irish government set up in 1922.

But there are new signs too, lots of them. Sinn Fein's latest posters say West Belfast stands against Brexit.

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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.

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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

The rise of the robots?

  • 28 December 2016
  • From the section Business
Humanoid robots Wakamaru, produced by Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industr Image copyright YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images

"Your bones will turn to sand. And upon that sand a new God will walk." Dolores in the latest sci-fi TV blockbuster, Westworld.

It may not quite be that bad. But a wall won't keep them out, a new work permit scheme won't stop their freedom of movement.

Read full article The rise of the robots?

Fascism, the 1930s and the 21st Century

A man takes a picture of the tomb of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini Image copyright TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)

For the first time ever in this country a neo-Nazi group is to be banned. Using the 2000 Terrorism Act, the Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: "National Action is a racist, antisemitic and homophobic organisation which stirs up hatred, glorifies violence and promotes a vile ideology, and I will not stand for it."

But why now?

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Could the European Union fall apart?

  • 6 December 2016
  • From the section Europe
Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announces his resignation during a press conference at the Palazzo Chigi following the results of the vote for a referendum on constitutional reforms Image copyright ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

It has been a dreadful year for the European Union. It has just got a lot worse. Next year could transform a looming existential threat into a terminal reality. The end of a joint 60-year project to transform the politics of an entire continent is now a distinct possibility.

Some would greet the prospect with glee, others with horror. But few have thought through what it would mean if the pillars came crashing down.

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How will Trump seek to unite the US?

Donald Trump waves to the crowd as he leaves the New York Times building following a meeting Image copyright AP

Mario Cuomo's old saying is so true it is a cliche: "You campaign in poetry, govern in prose." Donald Trump has gone one better: he campaigned in brimstone, he is preparing to govern in bromides.

Some of the old fire is there: he condemned Castro, hours after the old man's death, as a brutal dictator, while US President Barack Obama took refuge in allowing history to make the call. Mr Trump does not wait on history to tell him what he thinks.

Read full article How will Trump seek to unite the US?