In Depth

Instant Opinion: Boris Johnson is ‘sleepwalking’ into a second lockdown

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Friday 16 October

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

1. Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph

on the patchwork of local Covid restrictions

Boris is sleepwalking into the national lockdown he claims to despise

“Theresa May recently told Johnson that he needed a business person on Sage: he replied that he could not, otherwise it would be pronounced ‘beige’. But her point is a good one: he’s losing the argument. He needs reinforcements. Boris can tell himself that there is no proper lockdown – but when you’re legally forbidden from meeting your friends and family, as most Brits now are, the difference is pretty moot. For reasons even the Cabinet can’t quite understand, it seems that we’re about to enter the cycle all over again – and a Prime Minister who isn’t quite sure how he got into this mess may well struggle to find a way out.”

2. Gerard Baker in The Times 

on vacating the White House

A defeated Trump will have no way to stay

“Of course Mr Trump can certainly use whatever time he may have left in office to perform all kinds of mischief. He can grant presidential pardons for associates, in line with what most lame-duck presidents have done. He can issue executive orders (President Obama issued no fewer than 17 between the November 2016 election and Mr Trump’s inauguration) and national security directives. He might start some sort of dramatic foreign policy initiative that may complicate things for his successor... The Republican Party has bowed to Mr Trump for just as long as it has been worth its while. If the result is clear and he has lost, expect the party to move swiftly and tell him to obey the law and go. Don’t forget that much of this storm is pre-election posturing in which the president is certainly not the only participant.”

3. Simon Jenkins in The Guardian

on the country’s regional leaders

This pandemic has been the making of England’s elected mayors

“Suddenly, mayors matter. The 20 years since elected mayors were introduced half-heartedly by Tony Blair in 2000 had been years of obscurity. Now coronavirus has thrust them into the spotlight. We hear daily from Andy Burnham, ‘leader of the north’, from Liverpool’s Steve Rotheram, Birmingham’s Andy Street, Sheffield’s Dan Jarvis and London’s Sadiq Khan. So is the country breaking apart – or perhaps becoming a little more democratic? Among local politicians the increase in Covid infections has produced an aversion to another lockdown and a demand for greater local control over the response.”

4. Fareed Zakaria in The Washington Post

on inequality in the Covid-age

A pandemic should be the great equalizer. This one had the opposite effect.

“This week, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer pressed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on why she would not take the administration’s offer of $1.8 trillion. Her response was defensive and combative. She unfairly accused Blitzer of being an apologist for the Republican Party. She said something about how Republicans ‘do not share our values.’ (Of course they don’t, that’s why there are two parties and you have to make compromises.) None of it added up to a coherent position in a time of national emergency... I cannot help but wonder whether the relative normalcy of life for elites has prevented us from understanding the true severity of the problem. For those of us using Zoom, things have been a bit disruptive and strange. But for tens of millions of people in the United States — and hundreds of millions around the world — this is the Great Depression. Can we please help them?”

5. Jonathan S Tobin in Haaretz

on what the US means for Israel

How a Biden Victory Could Save Netanyahu

“While a Biden administration is likely to do much that will upset the Israeli right, it would actually help Netanyahu return to his former pose as Israel’s champion against American bullies. Netanyahu won’t cheer Trump’s exit, but the notion that a Trump loss will topple him is misplaced. If anything, a Biden administration’s revival of Obama’s policies might just give the prime minister the ammunition to further prolong his tenure in office.”

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