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The Spectator Podcast: will the EU project crumble after Merkel leaves?

2 November 2018

11:58 AM

2 November 2018

11:58 AM

Angela Merkel is stepping down but what is her legacy and can the EU project survive without her? On this week’s Spectator podcast, we also take a look at whether WhatsApp has made it harder for MPs to plot; and ask: should Brits be allowed to forage for wild mushrooms?


Merkel has been Germany’s Chancellor and Europe’s de facto leader for 13 years. In this week’s cover piece, Douglas Murray argues that her departure is the end of the federalist EU project. On the podcast, Douglas is joined by Sophie Pedder, the Economist’s Paris bureau chief and Emmanuel Macron’s biographer. But Sophie isn’t convinced that Merkel’s departure is good for Macron, her natural successor:

‘He is increasingly isolated, it is impossible for France to push things forward without Germany cooperation. It was difficult enough when Merkel was looking like a stronger leader… He can’t take some sort of leadership role without a partnership with Germany.’

Next, how to explain Theresa May’s resilience? Does a group-messaging app that Tory MPs are using hold the answer? Katy Balls says in this week’s magazine that messaging on WhatsApp has taken the place of face-to-face plotting in Westminster. But the problem is: how can you build trust over a phone? And how can you make sure the messages don’t leak? The result, then, is a group of MPs stripped of their ability to plot. Katy joins Paul Staines, a.k.a. Guido Fawkes, and Stewart Jackson, former MP and advisor to David Davis. On the podcast, Paul Staines says:

‘We get a good few of them [WhatsApp screenshots], and sometimes some of the things written on WhatsApp are written to be leaked. I’m thinking famously of the Boris long-winded kind of WhatsApp messages that were saying “get behind Theresa” and that kind of stuff, I think that was written for positioning purposes and you expect it to go out.” 

Finally, why aren’t Brits allowed to forage? Recently, foragers have got in trouble with the authorities for picking mushrooms, berries and chestnuts. But in this week’s magazine, professional mushroom forager Daniel Butler argues that the right to forage is as ancient as the Magna Carta. His enemies – the Forestry Commission and other government authorities – have got it wrong. He joins Josh Barrie, food and drinks writer at the i paper. On the podcast, Daniel Butler says foragers aren’t the ones at fault.

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