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Instant Opinion: is Donald Trump’s re-election campaign ‘toast’?

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Wednesday 1 July

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

1. Frank Bruni in The New York Times

on whether the 2020 election is already over

Is Trump Toast?

“According to some abstruse algorithm that The Economist regularly updates, he has only a one in 10 chance of winning the Electoral College and thus the presidency. According to a historical averaging of election-year polls by the website FiveThirtyEight, Biden’s lead over Trump right now is the biggest at this stage of the contest since Bill Clinton’s over Bob Dole in 1996, when Clinton won his second term. Trump’s response? To set himself on fire. His gratuitously touted instincts are nowhere to be found, supplanted by self-defeating provocations, kamikaze tantrums and an itchy Twitter finger. There’s a culture war for him to exploit, but instead of simply pillorying monument destroyers, he created his own living monuments: a white supremacist astride a golf cart in a Florida retirement community and a pistol-toting Karen shouting at peaceful Black protesters from the stoop of her St. Louis manse. As a statement of values, it’s grotesque. As a re-election strategy, it’s deranged.”

2. Alice Thomson in The Times

on the journey from leadership rival to de facto deputy

Gove is chief executive to Johnson’s chairman

“‘Michael is the mystery cat, he hides behind the door, for he’s the silent minister, who can decide the law, he’s the bafflement of the lobby, the backbenchers’ despair, for when they reach the scene of crime, the Govey’s never there.’ It’s easy to think that Michael Gove has been sidelined as minister for the Cabinet Office. According to this view, the man who stabbed Boris Johnson in the front in the 2016 Tory leadership contest sits at home eating Mrs Gove’s roast chicken and going on surreptitious runs while his daughter rules TikTok. But it’s not true. The double act has never been Boris and Dom, it’s Johnson and Gove. He is the chief executive to the prime minister’s chairman. He is also the link to Dominic Cummings, who was his adviser before he became Mr Johnson’s consiglieri and right-hand man. As one senior former Tory cabinet minister says, ‘Boris Johnson knows there is a Venn diagram of people who support Brexit and competent cabinet ministers and there’s only one person in the middle: Michael Gove.’”

3. Frances Ryan in The Guardian

on the dangers of ending lockdown

Boris Johnson is gambling with shielders’ lives by ending support on 1 August

“In the coming months, there is going to have to be an acknowledgment that there will be a number of ‘extremely vulnerable’ people who will feel the need to shield past the government’s end date, and for ministers to not cut these people off as if the problem is somehow over. To protect your life in a pandemic is not silly or paranoid but a difficult personal choice based on anything from medical history and childcare to job security. This is a time of incredible stress, where people already coping with disabilities and chronic illness are being asked to deal with the pressure of long-term isolation and daily decisions as to how to stay safe. Johnson’s government has a duty to protect those at highest risk for as long as coronavirus is a threat. No matter what ministers say, this is not over yet.”

4. James Dowling in The Daily Telegraph

on the prime minister’s promise of a 'Rooseveltian' spending spree

We have nothing to fear but the certainty of tax rises

“In repeating his opposition to austerity, the Prime Minister, whatever else he is doing, is therefore recognising the fiscal reality that you cannot cut spending. The corollary, which he also nodded towards, is that over time you therefore need to raise taxes if you want to balance the books. The Prime Minister did not deny this - and, in fact, arguably went further by refusing to back the Conservative manifesto’s ‘tax lock’ under which we would have seen no rises in the main rates of Income Tax, VAT and National Insurance for the duration of the Parliament. Instead, Boris Johnson simply said that he wanted to ensure the tax burden remained ‘reasonable’ - a much more elastic and relative measure. However the Prime Minister tries to soften the blow, the reality - which presumably he would rather the Chancellor conveyed - remains that tax rises are inevitable.”

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5. Cristina Ariza, extremism research analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, in The Independent

on the pandemic providing conditions for the far right to thrive

The far right knows exactly how to capitalise on a crisis like coronavirus

“Seldom have we seen such a combination of what experts in extremism call “push factors” at play: rising unemployment; fears over economic stability; mental health issues; personal loss; divisive political rhetoric. And worryingly, some of the key demographics of recruiters – including young people – will be on the receiving end of this. It does not help that far-right groups have already framed this crisis as a side effect of globalisation, which might sound appealing to those who feel ‘left behind’. While recent polls in Europe do not paint the far right as a winner, far right parties will nevertheless try to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the pandemic to demand border closures and crackdowns on immigration.”

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