Hard Brexit, hard border, hard men

Overlooking the Lunch Lounge cafe on Castlereagh Road in Loyalist East Belfast, three gunmen pose with automatic weapons and offer their unwavering support ‘For God and Ulster’. The mural is a reminder of darker days; the Troubles, when Northern Ireland was riven with sectarian hatred. Amid the talk of no deal and hard borders, does…

Alex through the looking-glass

Old school intelligence collection still matters in a digital world THE spy business is rooted in traditions. Sir Mansfield Cumming, the founder of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (better known as MI6), wrote in green ink. “C”, the real-life head of the foreign-intelligence agency, continues this quirky rite, even in emails. Technology is upending established practices…

Gambling on US morality

I spoke this week at a fringe meeting of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) annual forum in Geneva. The Democracy Institute, a public policy think-tank based in Washington DC and London, launched a report titled “Do as I say, not as I do” into a 14-year old dispute between the United States and the tiny Caribbean…

Recruiting for jihad

What’s more surprising: that a narcissistic if charismatic recruiter for Islamic State (IS), known to the security authorities, was allowed to operate freely, to the point a young convert was killed in Syria, or that he allowed himself to be filmed by a journalist for years, seemingly untroubled that he was gifting material to his…

Missing the (Hinkley) point

“If a country doesn’t produce its own energy it deserves to have the lights turned off and be invaded.” So says the reliably straight-talking David Lenigas, entrepreneur and energy-investor. The green light to build the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset, to be financed by France and China, was a decision based primarily…