In Review

Instant Opinion: ‘We’re all paying the price’ of hard Brexit

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Monday 7 December

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

1. Owen Jones in The Guardian

on mistakes and missteps

Hard remainers wouldn’t accept a soft Brexit. Now we’re all paying the price

“A series of tragic mistakes were made. Rather than try to convince leavers, continuity remainers increasingly made the argument that the referendum result was illegitimate because of Russian interference, questionable Facebook advertising and bogus promises. Rather than win over leavers, these campaigners succeeded only in patronising them, making fellow remainers angrier about Brexit and giving them false hope that the referendum result could be reversed, rather focusing energy on fighting for a close relationship with the EU following Britain’s departure. All attempts at compromise were maligned by the official remain campaigns. Whatever Labour’s failures, its position on Brexit was genuinely driven by a fear of alienating leave voters who were disproportionately concentrated in marginal seats that the party needs to keep and win to have a chance of forming a government. Every possible option other than a second referendum – or even stopping Brexit altogether without consulting the British people – was toxified.”

2. Robert Buckland QC in The Daily Telegraph

on revision and review

The Human Rights Act is not infallible

“The Government does not have any preconceived ideas about the review’s findings, but we are looking for options and there are some specific areas where we would like to see a focus – including whether the Act can result in judges being drawn, unduly, into matters of policy as well as law and whether they have struck the right balance between re-writing Acts of a Parliament and making a declaration of incompatibility. Reviewing the Human Rights Act is a huge undertaking. These are complex matters of law that interact with our most basic rights. It is precisely because we want to ensure that the Act protects those rights in the most effective way that this Review is taking place.”

3. Lorenzo Marsili in Al Jazeera

on refusing to turn back time

For anyone wishing for a better future, normalcy is the enemy

“We know that Covid-19 did not emerge in a vacuum. Climate change altered the way we relate to and interact with other species on earth and made conditions more favourable for the spread of infectious diseases. And yet, as we are finally nearing the end of this deadly pandemic, there appears to be a rush to return to a ‘normal’ that paved the way for this public health emergency. In China, the first country to shut down and one of the earliest to start reopening, the dramatic improvements in air quality seen as manufacturing and transportation largely came to a halt in the first few months of the year have now vanished. As all other countries rush to return to economic growth to make up for the lost time, a free-for-all for polluters now risks being on the cards. Faced with mounting deaths and personal disarray, it is easy to wish to turn the clocks backwards. And yet, there is no logic in trying to fix a problem by doubling down on the mistakes that caused it in the first place.”

4. John Hulsman in City A.M.

on sci-fi slaughter

An assassination in Tehran — that’s all about Joe Biden

“In a plot worthy of the best spy thriller, Dr Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the father of Iran’s nuclear programme, was gunned down on the outskirts of Tehran. The attack was carried out with ruthless efficiency, taking all of three minutes, seemingly conducted by remote-controlled car and weapons. To add to the James Bond lustre of the hit, just days before Iran’s three chief adversaries met publicly for the first time in Neom, Saudi Arabia. It is not known what Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister of Israel), Mike Pompeo (US Secretary of State) and Mohammed bin Salman (Crown Prince and de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia) spoke about. But given the assassination of Fakhrizadeh just days later, my guess is that it wasn’t the weather.”

5. Jonathan Sacerdoti in The Spectator

on a dark past

Should we judge Roald Dahl’s work by his appalling anti-Semitism?

“Roald Dahl died in 1990. So why does it matter today that he was an anti-Semite? Why has his family apologised thirty years on? And should his work be cancelled as a result? Or, to paraphrase the bible, should the sins of the author be visited upon the third and fourth generations who profit from his work? In September 1983, Israeli TV stopped broadcasting Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected to avoid paying royalties to an anti-Semite, making Dahl the third person whose work was excluded from the still-young state’s airwaves after Wagner and Strauss. Dahl had just published a book review considered to be so aggressively anti-Semitic that Paul Johnson described it in The Spectator the following month as ‘the most disgraceful item to appear in a respectable British publication for a very long time’.”

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