In Depth

Instant Opinion: Red Wall towns ‘won’t forgive a no-deal Brexit’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Tuesday 2 June

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

1. Rachel Sylvester in The Times

on the Conservatives’ new heartlands

Red Wall Tories won’t forgive a no-deal Brexit

“Even Remainers like me now accept that Brexit has happened. It cannot be reversed, but it is surely in the national interest that this transformation of Britain’s relationship with its biggest trading partner takes place in an orderly fashion. The consequences of forcing through a no-deal Brexit just as the country is heading into what Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, has predicted will be a ‘recession like we’ve never seen’ would be devastating. Brexiteers compare it to “ripping off the plaster” but it is more like infecting an open wound, causing long-term self-inflicted harm. What is more, the Tories’ new supporters in red wall seats would be among the worst affected. Already the industrial heartlands are at the sharp end of a surge in job losses, with workers being made redundant in large numbers and vacancies shrinking as a result of the lockdown. A report by the Social Market Foundation, published at the weekend, warned of the ‘severe economic disruption’ that would face the northwest and the Midlands if the Covid-19 crisis was compounded by a no-deal Brexit. The imposition of tariffs could force up the cost of living, which would have a disproportionate impact on the lowest paid.”

2. Jamelle Bouie in The New York Times

on the failings of President Trump’s Nixonian election pitch

You Can’t Be the ‘President of Law and Order’ if You Thrive on Chaos

“In the face of unrest, Trump has all but abdicated leadership, retreating to a presidential bunker while he orders the nation’s governors to repress demonstrations. ‘You have to dominate or you’ll look like a bunch of jerks, you have to arrest and try people,’ Trump said in a Situation Room phone call with the governors. ‘It’s a movement, if you don’t put it down it will get worse and worse. The only time its successful is when you’re weak and most of you are weak.’ When he did attempt to speak to the nation, through Twitter of course, it was to promise violent retribution against protesters. ‘These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,’ he said, adding that ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts,’ a phrase first used in 1967 by Walter Headley, the chief of police in Miami, also in reference to stopping protests and civil unrest. A ‘law-and-order’ campaign just isn’t available to Trump. If there is anyone who occupies a similar position to Nixon in this campaign, it’s Joe Biden, the vice president to a still-popular former president who is running as the candidate of normalcy and stability.”

3. Gordon Brown, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, in The Guardian

on how the world’s leadership has gone missing

The G20 should be leading the world out of the coronavirus crisis – but it’s gone awol

“If coronavirus crosses all boundaries, so too must the war to vanquish it. But the G20, which calls itself the world’s premier international forum for international economic cooperation and should be at the centre of waging that war, has gone awol – absent without lending – with no plan to convene, online or otherwise, at any point in the next six months... No country can eliminate infectious diseases unless all countries do so. And it is because we cannot deal with the health nor the economic emergency without bringing the whole world together that Donald Trump’s latest counterproposal – to parade a few favoured leaders in Washington in September – is no substitute for a G20 summit. His event would exclude Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and most of Asia, and would represent only 2 billion of the world’s 7 billion people. Yet the lesson of history is that, at key moments of crisis, we require bold, united leadership, and to resist initiatives that will be seen as ‘divide and rule’. So, it is time for the other 19 G20 members to demand an early summit, and avert what would be the greatest global social and economic policy failure of our generation.”

4. Vince Cable, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, in The Independent

on the decision to grant protesters an escape plan

Allowing Hong Kongers to settle in the UK is a brave step – but China’s retaliation is disappointing

“The basis of business-like relations with China over the last four decades has been a separation between the economic and the political. Deng Tsao Ping, the architect of modern China, was no less clear than his successors that the Communist Party would remain in charge and would countenance no threats to its monopoly of power, either in Beijing or via the back door of Hong Kong. Nonetheless there was ample room for cooperation over economic matters where capitalism and the Chinese Communist Party had a common interest in rising prosperity in China and globally. That cooperation and sense of shared interests is now breaking down - particularly in Hong Kong. A more subtle and self-confident Chinese leadership would have made a virtue of not rising to the provocation of violent protests, of desisting from sending in the army, and by letting local elections to largely powerless councils take their course.”

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5. Ben Habib, chairperson of Brexit Watch and former Brexit Party MEP, in The Daily Telegraph

on the necessary terms of Britain’s EU departure

Do ministers realise the brewing constitutional crisis at the heart of the Brexit deal?

“The UK’s negotiating team, tasked with concluding future trading arrangements, has done a first class job in socking it to the EU. David Frost leading the team has so far been superb in his robust rejection of EU demands to bind the UK into their laws on state aid, employment, the environment, competition and tax matters (the so called level playing field). He has stood firm on British fishing. He has rebuffed all Michel Barnier’s egregious demands. Brexiteers are delighted by his performance. In spite of such positive rhetoric I must warn of a brewing constitutional crisis. It comes in the form of the Northern Irish Protocol, the Prime Minister’s solution to the Northern Irish Backstop which had so vexed Mrs. May’s administration. This Protocol was agreed by the Prime Minister last October under severe pressure with a disintegrating government to get some form of agreement in place with the EU. It is the cuckoo’s egg in our withdrawal arrangements. I repeatedly warned about it, amongst other things, during the General Election but those warnings seemingly fell on deaf ears. I put this down to Brexhaustion.”

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