In Depth

Instant Opinion: UK goes ‘from poodle to lapdog’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Monday 6 January

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The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. The Guardian Editorial

on Trump’s war

UK goes from poodle to lapdog?

“Boris Johnson faces the first test of Britain’s post-Brexit foreign policy posture. Unlike George W Bush, Mr Trump won’t offer the British prime minister a way to sit out any upcoming war. He does not give help for free. He expects a quid pro quo. Jumping into the trenches with the US over a war Britain does not want may be the price Mr Johnson has to pay for a post-Brexit US-UK trade deal. There is a certain truth about the danger of any British prime minister swinging away from conventional wisdom and from British public opinion. Mr Blair was derided because it was said he let Britain become America’s poodle. This time the country risks ending up as its lapdog.”

2. David A. Andelman on CNN

on the Qasem Soleimani assassination

Trump's America stands utterly alone

“Certainly, Soleimani crossed a critical red line himself by going into Iraq where he was killed in a drone strike at a Baghdad airport. But Trump, by his response, crossed an even more dangerous one by escalating an already tense situation across a red line that was not its own -- without support from crucial allies. Perhaps most troubling is the fact that Trump does not seem to be at all concerned about his lack of friends and allies, nor for that matter has he expressed any real plan of response beyond a tweeted threat of retaliation against 52 Iranian targets if Iran strikes back. Above all, he does not seem to have an exit strategy or end game in mind. Establishing or violating a red line is not an action to be undertaken cavalierly or without careful consideration as to the response or the outcome.”

3. Stephen Glover in The Daily Mail

on flying economy in a crisis

Boris Johnson was too slow to get off his Caribbean holiday sunbed... now he must prove he can rise to the occasion

“There is something rather undignified about a British Prime Minister limping back on a scheduled jet — no doubt in a ruffled state — at a moment of international crisis. I can't imagine a German, French or even Italian leader travelling steerage at a time like this. Why did he take so long? Has he put personal pleasure before public duty? Or, removed as he was from events, and without advisers at his side, did he fail to grasp the severity of the situation? His behaviour recalls his reluctance to come back early from a family holiday in Canada in 2011 after rioting had broken out in London, when he was Mayor. But this is a more serious lapse because he is Prime Minister, and it is the first great test of his time in office.

4. Clare Foges in The Times

on reforming the civil service

If Dominic Cummings picks fights he’ll misfire badly

“The problem with alienating this particular establishment, though, is that the government needs them if it is to successfully implement its manifesto while handling the next round of Brexit negotiations. Cummings might wish to junk half of those working in Whitehall and replace them with algorithmic traders but it won’t happen. You can change pay structures and incentives and so on but ultimately most of the same people will be required to make this government’s agenda a reality — and whether civil servants or anyone else, people don’t tend to respond particularly well to being told they are incompetent or lazy. In his handling of officials both inside and outside No 10 Cummings might do well to remember the saying that “more flies are caught with honey than with vinegar”. If the fight becomes the story, if he becomes the bogeyman that civil servants love to obstruct, then No 10’s ambitions will be dead in the water.”

5. Nick Timothy in The Daily Telegraph

on winning over working-class voters

The Labour candidates' problems are their values, not their accents

“Working-class voters are not abandoning the party because they dislike where Labour’s leaders come from, or the accents with which they speak. If it were as simple as that, the working classes would hardly have turned out in their millions to vote for the classics-loving, Iliad-reciting, Eton-educated Johnson. Working-class voters are leaving Labour because they cannot stand what the party has become.”

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