In Depth

Instant Opinion: A new post-Brexit identity crisis for the UK

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Wednesday 29 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. Anne Applebaum at The Atlantic

on post-Brexit projects

After Brexit, new identity crises await the UK“Barring some truly bizarre occurrence, Britain will leave the European Union at midnight - Brussels time, of course - on Friday. And that’s it. If that argument is over, what happens to all of the bile and bitterness that have washed over British politics during the past three years? Does polarization just fade away?... The Brexit campaign was transformed from a fringe eccentricity into a mass movement by a handful of people who decided to make it into an argument about identity. Now Brexit itself has created a whole new set of questions about identity. The next political projects, whatever they are going to be, will take off by seeking to answer them.”

2. Laura Freeman in The Daily Telegraph

on looking at nudes

Mary Beard should stop fretting about nudity and show some imagination“Professor Beard’s new BBC Two series Shock of the Nude hasn’t even started yet, but already she’s throwing fig leaves to the wind. Professor Beard has told the Radio Times that far too many of the nudes we see on Western gallery walls are simply ‘Soft porn for the elite’. She asks how a modern woman should look at such paintings... What you are absolutely not supposed to think is: I wish my Watteaus were as perky as hers. I joke. But I am troubled by the tendency to impose modern sensibilities on the classical and Renaissance past. Rather than stand in front of every shy Venus and brazen Bathsheba and purse our lips and sigh ‘problematic’, should we not try to see with sixteenth-century eyes?”

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3. The editorial board at The Times

on Britons’ dissatisfaction with democracy

Losing faith“The pressures on democracies are heightened by the context in which so much of politics is today conducted. The essence of democracy is compromise. It is the only political system ever devised that has proven capable of peacefully reconciling competing interests while maintaining basic freedoms and human rights. Yet in a world in which social media amplifies political divisions and polarises debate, compromise is harder to achieve. Too many politicians find it easier to fan this polarisation by offering simplistic solutions designed to enthuse their base rather than be honest about the trade-offs that must inevitably be confronted in all complex political decisions.”

4. Green MEP Magid Magid on HuffPost

on the future for millions

Recognising climate refugees is a glimmer of hope for an uncertain future“In the next decade alone, it is projected that up to ten million people will be displaced by the climate emergency. Of course, in many nations, this will be people displaced within states, rather than across borders. But when we look at the fate of a nation like Kiribati – likely to be literally wiped off the map in the coming years – it’s inevitable that many of those millions will be forced to seek refuge beyond a border. And that’s just in the next ten years. Imagine what happens when it really starts getting hotter... One day soon, the international community will have to recognise people displaced by this climate chaos as refugees. The alternative does not bear thinking about.”

5. Lee Habeeb at Newsweek

on Sunday’s sudden death of an NBA hero

Kobe Bryant’s life and legacy“The world had lost more than just a great athlete and competitor. We’d lost a bit of ourselves. For the millions of fans who watched a young Bryant come up the ranks from high school through adulthood and his NBA retirement, he was Michael Jordan and Julius Erving in one body... Bryant wasn’t perfect. But - flaws and all - he always came back for more, fighting harder than ever. And we always came back for more, too.”

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