In Depth

Instant Opinion: ‘It’s a fantasy that Brexit will lead to a United Ireland’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Thursday 1 August

1. Eilis O’Hanlon in The Daily Telegraph

on Irish unification

It's a Remainer and Sinn Fein fantasy that Brexit will lead to a United Ireland

“Imagining that Brexit will blow a hole in unionists’ entire identity is just another spasm of confirmation bias from people who never took the pro-Union community in Northern Ireland seriously in the first place, and who need Brexit to be an economic and constitutional disaster to justify their rearguard campaign of sabotage. Just because some unionists wish the UK to remain in the EU does not mean that, given a binary choice, they’d opt for the EU over staying in the UK. Brexit has simply replaced demographics as the United Irelanders’ panacea of choice.”

2. The civil servant in The Guardian

on the threat posed by the PM’s chief advisor Dominic Cummings

Boris Johnson’s war on Whitehall will damage democracy

“This week we saw a growing number of MPs voicing their concern that [Cummings] represents a threat to democracy itself. That’s unprecedented – and we should heed their warning. This is not about opposing the idea of confidence or optimism – but the normalisation of a myopic ruthlessness and a corrupting desire to go for broke, to win by any means necessary.”

3. David Aaronovitch in The Times

on the link between truth and democracy

We must do more to sift fact from fiction

“Many people will argue that correcting falsity or insisting on accuracy are fool’s errands. What matters now is how people feel. Appeal to their emotions and stop this arid insistence on fact. I’ve read it hundreds of times. This way lies disaster. False information kills, from polio epidemics to trashed reputations. A common idea of what constitutes truth and what constitutes opinion is as essential to a functioning democracy as an independent judiciary. Their job may be difficult and sometimes even impossible, but I am with the fact-checkers. Every time.”

4. David Gardner in The Financial Times

on the end if the liberal international order

The long march of autocracy across the Middle East

“As the liberal, rules-based international order is being sabotaged by the leaders of countries that created it, now may not seem the ideal time to ask why the Middle East is tilting violently back towards the autocracy of the police state. Rulers in the Arab world do nest-feathering not nation-building and put regime maintenance ahead of reform. And for the most part world powers — sponsors of and supplicants to these tyrants — do not care. But they should care. Policies fashioned by the US and cheered on by Europe have a sterling record — think of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria — of helping incubate ever more extremist strains of Sunni jihadism. The citizens of Paris and Nice, Brussels and Berlin, London and Manchester, Ankara and Istanbul, have all experienced the backlash. The killing fields are not just regional, but global.”

5. Peter Franklin in UnHerd

on the changing role of the home

How WEIRD are you?

“As well as what the household contained, there was what it kept out: at a time before modern policing, the household was the first, and perhaps only, line of defence. The single most important duty of the head of the household was to go round at night ensuring that all the doors and gates were secured and everyone safely inside. But that brings us to the dark and stifling side of the household – its role in traditional societies as the primary instrument of social control. The modern era of individual liberty was first and foremost a liberation from the constraints of the household – for women most obviously, but also its other members too. With the partial exception of the parent-child relationship, western societies no longer expect individuals to subordinate their personal autonomy to the greater good of the family.”


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