Instant Opinion: Boris Johnson considers ‘no-deal as better than surrender’
Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Friday 4 September
The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.
1. James Forysth in The Times
on EU demands vs. Downing Street’s ambitions
Johnson sees no-deal as better than surrender
“Perhaps the strongest argument against leaving without a deal, though, is that it wouldn’t be the end of the matter. Britain and EU economies are so interlinked that there would have to be another go at reaching agreement. The EU could take a hardline approach on border checks to try to force Britain back to the negotiating table. But those around Johnson are optimistic that if this country can weather the first few months of no deal, then talks might resume in the second half of 2021 and they might be able, from there, to negotiate the Canada-style free trade deal that remains their preferred option. It is tempting to imagine that all this talk of no deal is just more Brexit theatre; that the table will be kicked over in one last fight with Brussels, and then a deal will be done at the last with both sides claiming victory. But Boris Johnson is adamant on the state aid point.”
2. Owen Jones in The Guardian
on a radical break in crisis-stricken Britain
Labour’s left may feel dejected – but it still has a crucial role to play
“What role exists for the left in the age of Keir Starmer? There is one basic fact that should give cause for hope and caution. Hope, because Starmer owes his landslide victory to many of those who twice voted for his predecessor to be party leader. They remain, by and large, committed to the core domestic policies associated with Corbyn’s tenure as Labour leader. Caution, because when someone votes for a candidate to become leader, they want them to do well; but they quickly become aggravated if those on their own side seem to be willing failure... The left’s focus should surely be on building a broad coalition for policies backed by most of the membership, and indeed millions of voters, including those who rejected Labour last December for reasons other than a passionate attachment to a privatised railway system. On this, they have a democratic mandate: Starmer won the leadership describing the 2017 manifesto as ‘our foundational document’ and committing to 10 pledges, including hiking tax on the rich and big business, public ownership, abolishing tuition fees, and putting ‘the green new deal at the heart of everything we do’.”
3. Tim Ward, former Australian trade negotiator, in The Daily Telegraph
on the controversial former Australian PM
Tony Abbott is many things, but a trade expert? Don’t come the raw prawn, mate!
“Dear Britain, as an Australian and a trade expert, I’d like a quiet word with you about Tony Abbott, our erstwhile PM and (at the time of writing at least) UK trade envoy in waiting. To be clear, Abbott and controversy go together like raw prawns and food poisoning, so it’s no surprise that UK ministers have found themselves floundering when asked if a ‘misogynist and homophobe’ is an appropriate person to represent Britain in trade negotiations or, indeed, any other sphere. There was a particularly toe-curling moment when Health Secretary Matt Hancock struggled to bat away that very question from Sky’s Kay Burley by claiming that Abbott was a ‘trade expert’. It was a pretty poor attempt at a defence, and not just because being a trade expert hasn’t ever really been much of a justification for misogyny or homophobia. No, it was also a bit odd because, while London-born Abbott did serve as Australia’s PM for a couple of years, his CV is not, in fact, the CV of a trade expert.”
4. David Brooks in The New York Times
on the US election nightmare scenario
What Will You Do if Trump Doesn’t Leave?
“If Trump claims a victory that is not rightly his, a few marches in the streets will not be an adequate response. There may have to be a sustained campaign of civic action, as in Hong Kong and Belarus, to rally the majority that wants to preserve democracy, that isolates those who would undo it. Two themes would have to feature in such civic action. The first is ardent patriotism. The country survives such a crisis only if most people’s love of nation overwhelms the partisan fury that will threaten to envelop us. The second is the preservation of constitutional order. Through epic acts of self-discipline, the nonviolent civil rights marchers in the 1960s forced their foes to reveal that if there were to be any violence and anarchy, it would come from the foes. That’s how the movement captured the moral high ground and won the mind of the nation. The process of mobilizing for an accurate election outcome, before it is too late, would be a struggle to preserve the order of our civic structure against the myriad foes who talk blithely about tearing down systems, disorder and disruption. It may be how we rediscover our nation again.”
5. Dana Milbank in The Washington Post
on the last line of defence against Trump
The U.S. military builds a bulwark against Trump
“God bless our troops. Sometimes that’s a throwaway line that politicians put at the end of their speeches. But at this moment, particularly, I’m bursting with admiration for our military. At a time when a sitting president is trying his best to discredit the results of an election he stands to lose and is attempting to dissolve every last bond that holds us together as a people, the troops are saying: No. This week Military Times came out with a poll of active-duty military finding that 50 percent of them have an unfavorable view of the president (42 percent strongly disapprove) and only 38 percent have a favorable view. They support Joe Biden over President Trump by four percentage points — an extraordinary edge for a Democrat. In a 2016 poll using the same methodology, Trump led Hillary Clinton by nearly 2 to 1. Sixty percent of veterans voted for Trump in the election... If the worst happens, and Trump loses the election but tries to keep power by force, it’s clear that the U.S. military will not help him.”