WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 09: Lights shine down Pennsylvania Avenue leading to the U.S. Capitol in the early hours of Friday morning on February 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. Despite an attempt by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to slow down the process, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation to continue to fund the government and lift strict budget caps. With the government officially in a shut- down, the legislation now goes to the House of Representatives which is expected to vote to reopen the Government early Friday morning. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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On both left and right of US politics, conspiracy theories have grown about a powerful secret network manipulating events and seeking to do down ordinary Americans and their interests.

In his column on Tuesday, Gideon Rachman argues that these fantasies have taken firmer hold since Donald Trump’s coterie has been using allegations of a ‘deep state plot to deflect all criticism.

As Gideon points out, in some countries the threat of a military coup, for example, is real. “It should not need saying,” he writes, “but American political traditions are very different from those of Turkey or Pakistan.”

Look out Brenda!
There could be yet another UK election, warns Janan Ganesh, because there are good reasons for arch-Brexiters in the Conservative party to want one. He recalls the horror and frustration expressed by Brenda from Bristol, whose vox-pop as the 2017 poll was announced went viral. But the logic of tipping the balance in the Commons towards Leave is inescapable.

Corporate interests storm the Red Fort
Amy Kazmin explores the angry reaction to a scheme that appoints business sponsors to India’s heritage sites, to manage and fund maintenance and improvements. At its heart, she explains, is a residual but persistent mistrust of business, a hangover from the days of the “licence raj”.

A tale of two Oxfords
Undergraduate student Syeda Ali writes about the access scheme that enabled her, after her schooling was seriously disrupted by family trips to Pakistan, to cross from the side of town where aspirations are very different to the ancient and very selective university a few miles but a world away.

Best of the rest

Brexiters are treating Ireland with contempt — Alex Massie in The Times

Things have changed since Sandy Hook — Mimi Swartz in the New York Times

Italy confronts an economic impasse proposed by the populists — Olivier Tosseri in Les Echos (in French)

What you’ve been saying …

Letter from Professor Photis Lysandrou in response to Martin Wolf’s column How the west should judge a rising China

‘It is absence of choice that underpins the Trump administration’ ability to throw its weight around without fear of effective retribution. Would that we were moving to a post-western future.’

Comment by Bill Allen in response to Rana Foroohar The wrong time to roll back reforms

‘It would be absurd to condemn any attempt to revise the mass of bank regulation introduced after the financial crisis. Much of it was drafted in haste and it has had many unintended consequences — for example, the deterioration of liquidity in government securities markets. Only the United States has contemplated any such revision. That is to the credit of the United States. You may reasonably criticise details of the proposed changes, but it's impossible to deny the good sense of making changes.’

Today’s opinion

Another UK election would tip the balance towards Brexit supporters
An apparent rough patch for Leavers is better than things might be in the near future

A Big Four upheaval could endanger audit quality
Accountancy changes are needed but not measures that bring costly disruption to the UK

Red alert for Indians with an innate distaste for big business
News that heritage sites will be sponsored by corporations prompts howls of outrage

Free Trade: US at odds with itself over goals of China trade talks
Washington cannot have both a better investment regime in China and a lower trade deficit

Team Trump’s ‘deep state’ paranoia fans conspiracy theories
The president’s dark tweets get a wide audience — but the US is no Turkey

Free Lunch: Theresa May’s Brexit landing zone has come into view
The unity of the country is surely worth the price of a few red lines

Batteries are the next frontier of industrial competition
Why the race is on to host the factories that will serve the electric vehicle market

Shadows of Empire, by Michael Kenny and Nick Pearce
A fascinating account of the influence the ‘Anglosphere’ has had on British politics

FT View

Personal Technology: Chinese fintech’s global future is arriving now
Financial infrastructure is a strategic asset and regulatory challenge

FT View: The eurozone ‘safe asset’ is crucial to banking union
Governments should welcome Brussels’ proposal for synthetic bonds

The Big Read

The Big Read: American politics: The ‘herbal tea party’ stirs up Democrats
As it prepares for midterms, the party faces a schism between its establishment and its left flank

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