In Depth

Instant Opinion: Boris ‘playing hardball’ in Brussels

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Tuesday 3 March

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

1. Paul Taylor in Politico EU

on tussles in Brussels

Britain plays hardball in Brexit trade talks

“The government has dropped all talk of seeking a ‘deep and special’ relationship, or of ‘frictionless trade’, and seems to have written off hope of a long-term deal ensuring access for the UK’s giant financial services industry. Ministers have made clear that they put the sovereign right to diverge from EU rules above any economic benefit, and they have instructed business and farmers to prepare for friction at the borders. It could all be a grand bluff. But barring another last-minute Johnson pivot in mid-year as the steep cost of a chaotic no-deal rupture comes into sharper focus, the UK appears to be steering toward a far more disruptive break on a much shorter timescale than EU policymakers had contemplated.”

2. Neil Mackay in The Herald Scotland

on the future of disease response

Coronavirus could change our world forever

“The coronavirus has a wickedly dark sense of humour, and a taste for rather biting irony and symbolism. When it comes to comedy, our budding pandemic – newly arrived in Scotland – has very modern sensibilities. Of course, anthropomorphism is one of humanity’s dumbest tendencies. We can’t help but see human traits in objects and things which aren’t human. We ascribe emotions to animals, we see moods in weather and landscape. Nevertheless, it’s hard to shake the notion that coronavirus has something to say about life in 2020.”

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3. Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine

on a resurgent former VP

Why Democratic endorsements can help Joe Biden win

“One reason why the Republican Party failed to stop Trump is that its voters were intensely skeptical of their leaders. Conservatism never fails, it is only failed, as Rick Perlstein famously remarked. The movement’s radical and impractical ideology was never going to be carried out, and so it was necessary to blame its failings on the shortcomings of the party leadership. Conservative-movement politics has spent decades telling its audience that they have failed because they were sold out by weak-willed leaders in Washington. Trump used that exact message to discredit his intraparty adversaries, painting them all as losers, and promising that he would finally enable them to win. The Sanders campaign is, in many ways, an attempt to run the same play in a different party. Sanders may not be Trump’s perfect ideological mirror image, but his notion of a political revolution that mobilizes the people to destroy an Establishment has much of the same flavor.”

4. Soline Humbert in The Irish Times

on Catholicism’s misogyny

Pope’s view on women in the church has brought frustration, anger and tears

“Our sense of vocation is treated a priori as an egotistic delusion, a sinful hankering for power, a failure to accept our womanhood, the product of a clericalist mentality, an evil threat to the church. We are dangerous women to be kept out in the cold. No warm embrace from male-governed Mother Church for us. I was not one of the women who shed tears reading the pope’s latest words on what women can and cannot be, can and cannot do. All my tears, and they were copious and anguished, have been shed long ago. These words no longer held any power over me, no longer had the power to wound me. To put it bluntly, I do not recognise myself in the pope’s view of women, and haven’t done so for a very long time.”

5. Clifford M. Kulwin in the Los Angeles Times

on the dangers of reductionism

Why ‘pro-Israel’ is a dangerous label

“Pro-Israel is a phrase I’ve come to abhor. Far from being useful or accurate, it’s meaningless, and even dangerous. How can one’s feelings about another country be reduced to a binary state? Is there really a line that, when crossed, transforms one from ‘pro’ to ‘anti’? And who gets to decide where that line is? For example, I strongly disagree with some Israeli policies, like the theocracy that discriminates against women and non-orthodox Jews, tacitly endorsed by generations of Israeli leaders. The current Israeli government uses scare tactics to inflate a sense of threat, diverting attention from Israel’s myriad social inequities, like the far longer life expectancy of Israeli Jews compared with Israeli Arabs. I am also uncomfortable with the ties being forged by the Israeli government with authoritarian leaders of Hungary, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.”

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