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Some supporters of Britain’s continued membership of the EU persist in believing that Brexit can be stopped. The deal has yet to be negotiated and Theresa May’s government, they argue, remains vulnerable to parliamentary defeat.

Other Remainers, notes Gideon Rachman in his column this week, are pinning their hopes not on stopping Britain’s departure from the bloc but on it staying in the customs union — an outcome that hard Brexiters regard as unconscionable and tantamount to betrayal.

If, as some informed observers believe, the chances of bringing the Brexit process to a halt are less than 5 per cent, the parliamentary arithmetic nevertheless suggests that a government defeat on the customs union is possible. But that could then lead to a challenge to Mrs May’s leadership of the Conservative party, at which point all bets would be off.

Network effects: In the private sector, companies benefit from economies of scale. The more efficient an organisation is, the more profit it generates. But, argues Anne-Marie Slaughter, we should be wary of assuming that what is true of private enterprise holds for social enterprise too.

Striking a pose: The scandal of the children of the Windrush generation is a reminder that both the prime minister and Amber Rudd, the home secretary, are modern-minded Tories who talk up their toughness in order to appeal to the right wing of the Conservative party, writes Janan Ganesh. Just as it took a Republican president, Richard Nixon, to change US policy towards China, so only a pro-Brexit politician from the Tory right will be able to adopt a sensible immigration policy.

India’s war on women: Once again, writes Amy Kazmin, India has been shaken by an appalling rape case. The sexual assault and murder of an eight-year-old girl has divided the country along communal lines, with some Hindu nationalist politicians rallying to the cause of the men accused of the crime. Prime minister Narendra Modi has promised “justice”, but remains notably reluctant to condemn the hate speech perpetrators by members of his own party.

FT Big Picture: In the second episode of our new podcast, columnist Sarah O’Connorexplores the changing world of work, the fraying of the traditional relationship between employers and employees and the future of trade unions.

Best of the rest

Caution, babies voting — Gail Collins in the New York Times

How do you celebrate Earth Day when Scott Pruitt is still at the EPA? — Elizabeth Kolbert in the New Yorker

The Capita crisis may be the undoing of the Tories at the local elections — Aditya Chakrabortty in the Guardian

Understanding the development of China is a challenge to economic theory — Robert Boyer in Le Monde (in French)

Why is Bangladesh booming? — Kaushik Basu for Project Syndicate

What you’ve been saying

A second referendum on Brexit would be logical— letter from Bruce Mathers

In Switzerland, we have the popular initiative, which offers a close parallel to the Brexit vote. First the population votes on the new principle which, if passed, is enshrined in the Constitution. Then the government gets to work on the details and Parliament finally hammers out the proposed law. At that point the population can again demand a referendum, this time not on the principle but on the implementation. The idea that the original vote in principle could be refined and passed into law without any further right of veto by the population would be considered highly undemocratic.

Comment from Paul A. Myers on Regulating Facebook merely nips at the edge of a bigger problem

I have less issue with the state having access to my digital footprint. Truly nothing to hide and I don’t want to live in a world where I can’t trust the state. And yes, I do like to feel safe when travel on a passenger airliner. Whereas I have an enormous issue with non state players monetizing my private profile. That the private sector can grab my personal data, mess with it, sell it on without my express permission and without paying me for it, that’s no different from a crude street mugging and should be no more legal.

IMF should focus on private sector debt— letter from Stephen Haase

The IMF is correct in stating that rising levels of private debt is an issue for the global economy. We are well aware of this thanks to Hyman Minsky’s financial instability hypothesis, which taught us about the inherent danger of excessive leveraging and high debt-to-income and debt-to-equity ratios in the private sector. High levels of public debt, however, are not automatically destabilising.

Today’s opinion

The $5tn ETF market balances precariously on outdated rules
Let us create regulations that put all these investment products under one umbrella

Measured May has succumbed to a tawdry migrant pose
A rightwing, pro-Brexit politician could adopt a sensible immigration policy

Brexit could yet be stopped at customs
The issue is critical because it marks the frontier between a ‘hard’ and a ‘soft’ deal

Indian women pay the price as politicians stoke communal hate
A violent rape is the appalling consequence of the ‘battle of Hindus versus Muslims’

FT Swamp Notes: Art imitates life in the digital age
Complex and fragmented debate juxtaposed against a concentration of political and economic power

No Turning Back, by Rania Abouzeid
An extraordinary book on the human cost of the Syrian conflict

The rise of renewables casts doubt on Europe’s nuclear future
France’s EDF is rethinking where it fits in the new energy economy

FT View

FT View: The customs union is imperative for Britain’s future prosperity
After Brexit the UK must keep its borders open to European trade

FT View: In online advertising, Facebook is a publisher
Martin Lewis’s fake ads lawsuit makes an obvious point — one that needed making

The Big Read

The Big Read: Interview: Cyril Ramaphosa on how to fix South Africa
‘Something was wrong, horribly wrong,’ says the country’s president of the Zuma era. Now he must restore faith in the African powerhouse and its politics

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