Instant Opinion

‘Britain is, for the moment, clear that it won’t follow the Americans down this path’

Your digest of analysis and commentary from the British and international press

1

James Forsyth in The Times

Britain and the US are at odds over Saudi arms sales

on strained relations

“The British government has found the transition to the new administration easy,” writes James Forsyth in The Times, because “London is comfortable with Washington’s new positions on Russia and China”. However, “relations could be strained” by the UK’s reluctance to go along with Joe Biden’s ban on selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. If Washington were to ask London to “follow its lead” it would “put the UK in a very difficult position” as “manufacturing jobs in this country would be pitted against the importance of maintaining ties with the new administration”. “Britain is, for the moment, clear that it won’t follow the Americans down this path”. 

2

Madeline Grant in The Daily Telegraph

Matt Hancock delivers a blistering array of corporate gobbledegook

on impenetrable language

Madeline Grant says Matt Hancock “set the Commons ablaze with managerial jargon” yesterday as he delivered “a blistering array of corporate gobbledegook”. The health secretary “plumped for an uneasy mixture of middle-manager speak and kindergarten-ese: strategy consulting via the sand pit”, speaking “v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y about joined-up care, as if lecturing an audience yet to master joined-up handwriting”. It was not all bad, she adds. “At times”, Hancock “almost made sense”.

3

Joyce McMillan in The Scotsman

Covid pandemic should see wealthy jet-set lose their frequent flyer privileges

on the future of flying

“If many less well off Britons feel bereft without the prospect of a sunshine break... their preferences pale into insignificance alongside the invincible sense of entitlement of Britain’s wealthier classes,” writes Joyce McMillan in The Scotsman. Frequent flying is a “mark of privilege” and “we should have the maturity” to see that “if travel is ever to return to its pre-Covid heights, then it should be on a different basis, more considered, probably less frequent, and more environmentally friendly”. After all, “we now know that most business travel can be replaced with a well-managed Zoom call, and that online meetings can be as productive as face-to-face ones”.

4

Michael D. Higgins, president of Ireland, in The Guardian

Empire shaped Ireland’s past. A century after partition, it still shapes our present

on historic relations

“It is vital to understand the nature of the British imperialist mindset” to understand the “history of coexisting support for, active resistance to, and, for most, a resigned acceptance of British rule in Ireland,” writes Michael D. Higgins, the president of Ireland. “British imperialist attitudes to the Irish for example, were never, and could never be, about a people who… could be trusted in a civilised discourse of equals”, he adds. Only by “remembering complex, uncomfortable aspects of Britain and Ireland’s shared history” can we “forge a better future”.

5

Nicholas Yeo in the South China Morning Post

Company earnings will plough ahead in the Year of the Ox

on bouncing back

“Oxen are esteemed in Chinese culture for strength and hard work,” writes Nicholas Yeo in the South China Morning Post. This is a good omen, argues the head of equities at Aberdeen Standard Investments, because although investors “need to think carefully about where to commit capital and what to avoid in the year ahead”, thanks to the “ox-like resilience of China’s economy” they “won’t be short of compelling growth options” in the year ahead.

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