In Depth

Instant Opinion: Brexit Day is a ‘moment of profound national shame’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Friday 31 January

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

1. Timothy Garton Ash in The Guardian

why patriots must wish Brexit a (partial) success

We remainers must now aim for Britain to do well – and the EU even better

“…Only the most selfish, vengeful ex-remainer would wish those who voted for Brexit to suffer as a result. We are as patriotic as any Brexiteer, desiring the best for our country as well as our continent. Therefore we must now want – and indeed work for – our pessimistic predictions to be proved at least partly wrong. Having fought Brexit like the plague for four years we must, in this minimal sense, want Brexit to succeed.”

2. Philip Collins in The Times

why the description of Brexit as a liberation from Europe is wide of the mark

Brexit ‘liberation day’ is self-serving fantasy

“Much the worst thing about the politicians and pundits who led the charge for Brexit is how susceptible they are to rank stupidity. I am not saying there are no reasons at all to wish to the leave the European Union; I am merely saying that the desire to be free is not one of them. The implication, that Britain has been in servitude since 1973, would be offensive to those who have endured genuine suffering if it were not so manifestly absurd. Brexit is a petty local dispute by comparison. It does not warrant this pathetic borrowed grandeur. Yet, as the prominent Brexit cheerleaders unfurl their flags and banners for their ode to joy at our departure, this is the rhetorical idiocy of the time.”

3. Martin Fletcher in The New Statesman

why Brexit Day completes the ‘hijacking’ of the country

Brexit Day is no cause for celebration – this is a moment of profound national shame

“And so a small band of fanatical right-wing ideologues, once confined to the wilder fringes of British politics, successfully completed their hijacking of our country. Tonight, thanks to them, the UK will leave the most successful experiment in multi-national collaboration the world has ever seen. We will withdraw from the biggest free-trade area ever created. We will walk away from institutions in which, contrary to the Brexiteers’ lies, Britain was a big, powerful member with plenty of allies and a long record of winning big strategic arguments.”

4. Fraser Nelson in The Telegraph

on the backlash against ‘cancel culture’

From Alastair Stewart to Scruton, the public are fighting back against the cancel culture of the digital mob

“This is politics, of a new and potent kind. There are a great many voters who might not care about Brexit but who do care that the jokes they crack might be used to destroy them, or those they love. That without voting for it, we have somehow entered a world where everyone is one off‑colour joke away from career death. This matters more than a marginal tax rate or the fate of HS2. It’s a force against which targets have no defence: to be accused is to be guilty. And victims are everywhere.”

5. Gail Collins in The New York Times

on the Democratic race to take on Trump in 2020

Will Someone Break Out of Iowa Who Can Trounce Trump? Anyone?

“The biggest question Iowans are going to answer is whether the Bernie boom is real. Lately all around the country, Democrats have been wandering around looking at polls and muttering: ‘Wow, it looks like our nominee is maybe going to be — Sanders. Um, gee.’ Unless, of course, they are part of the extremely large Bernie fan club, in which case they’re just bouncing up and down, waiting for their big moment.”

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