In Depth

Instant Opinion: Boris Johnson ‘mired in mixed messages’ over Christmas lockdown

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Tuesday 17 November

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

1. Patrick O’Flynn in The Daily Telegraph

on the coronavirus festive season

Mired in mixed messages, the public needs to know if there's a plan for Christmas - and fast

“While the Prime Minister could not have expected to be isolating again in Downing Street after coming into contact with a Covid carrier, he could and should have been expecting the onset of severe pressure to talk the country through what winter is going to look like, social distancing-wise. Yes, he may have told us that the current England-wide lockdown will automatically expire on December 2 and that he ‘aims’ thereafter to take us back to the prior tiered approach. But that begs many more questions than it answers.”

2. Yannick Giovanni Marshall on Al Jazeera

on rejecting reconciliation

After this election, we should not come together

“Millions of us waited on election results to see if we had, in fact, yet again, eked out a survival, jumping from the fire back into the frying pan. And now that it is over, now that Joe Biden has won, we are asked to unify with the shouting men and women still holding signs that the movement for our right to life is a communist conspiracy. Pundits continue to peddle the same false equivalency: there is fear on both sides. But our fears, like everything else, are unequal. Racists do not fear being dragged off in cattle cars. They do not fear having their wombs stolen or being snatched off a street in broad daylight for saying their lives matter. They fear that the three strokes in the ‘E’ on Biden campaign posters represent communism, or whatever the latest QAnon YouTube influencer suggests that they fear.”

3. Charlie Cooper and Emilio Casalicchio on Politico

on Vote Leave vacating No 10

Has Dominic Cummings’ exit made a Brexit deal more likely?

“The prime minister, too, is said by officials to be more resolute on Brexit than even Cummings or his ally Lee Cain, the Downing Street director of communications who also headed for the exit last week. ‘Their departure will not make any difference,’ one U.K. official said. ‘The PM is the strongest voice in the room on Brexit and we will only get there if we can agree a deal which respects our sovereignty.’ But there’s almost certainly an element of spin here: No. 10 will want to nip in the bud any narrative that suggests Johnson went soft on Brexit when Cummings left. Nigel Farage is already circling, ready to prey on the diehard Brexiteer votes that this could cost the Conservative party. And while Farage may seem like a sideshow in British politics, last year’s Brexit Party surge in the European elections is a reminder of how quickly he can generate a groundswell of support among the chunk of the electorate for whom Brexit is a matter of faith.”

4. Ishaan Tharoor in The Washington Post

on a disastrous agenda

Trump’s Iran agenda is about to end in failure

“Just days after President Trump’s inauguration, the battle lines were drawn. At the White House, then-national security adviser Michael T. Flynn said the new administration was ‘officially putting Iran on notice’ for its alleged catalogue of destabilizing activities throughout the Middle East. Flynn’s political scandals would see him soon lose his job and later plead guilty to lying to FBI investigators. But Trump and his allies pressed ahead, launching a campaign of ‘maximum pressure’ that strangled the Iranian economy and upended the nuclear deal forged in 2015 between the regime in Tehran and world powers. With just two months left in his presidency, Trump has little to show for four years of anti-Iran hawkishness.”

5. Adam Lent in The Guardian

on scapegoating local councils

Croydon’s bankruptcy is the result of austerity – and more councils will follow

“The fault here lies not with councils but with a decision taken back in 2010 by the coalition government to heavily load the burden of austerity on to local government and welfare so that education, pensions and the NHS could be relatively protected from cuts. It was a ruthless but politically successful calculation to cushion the areas of the public sector that David Cameron and co knew voters and the media cared most about. It was also a wildly reckless move that was bound to make crucial services unsustainable over the longer term.”

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