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The Daily Mail’s “Crush the saboteurs” splash earlier this year was one of the most provocative Fleet Street front pages in recent times. Then there was “enemies of the people”. Such bold headlines perfectly captured the pugnacious attitude of the pro-Brexiters and belittled those who continue to question the UK’s departure from the EU - casting them as anti-democrats. Yet this swagger has given way in recent weeks to a wave of anger.
Brexiters are increasingly lashing out at those who are not true believers in their revolutionary project. Gideon Rachman looks at the attacks on the enemy within – rattling off all the institutions that have come under attack: the BBC, the civil service, the City of London, the Bank of England, the Treasury, leading universities, top lawyers, publications such as The Economist and Financial Times, some Conservative MPs, many Labour MPs and all of the Liberal Democrats. Brexit-supporters revel in painting themselves as anti-establishment hell-raisers, speaking up for ordinary voters against the cosy elite. They fail to realise they are the new establishment and must own the country’s future.
While Mark Carney, the Bank of England’s governor, was last summer’s target for Brexit anger, the focus has since moved to chancellor Philip Hammond. Britain’s own Eeyore has become a lightning rod for criticism and whispers are circulating that he might be sacked in an upcoming cabinet reshuffle. Janan Ganesh looks at the plight of Mr Hammond in his column, citing it as another example of practical people being sidelined. He points out that Brexit risks becoming like socialism: a good idea that just happens to be let down always and everywhere by the bad faith of the people who enact it.
The next target is likely to be Sir Jeremy Heywood, the all-powerful head of civil service who is playing a major backroom role in the Brexit negotiations. He is too good to for the Brexiters to ignore: a pillar of the establishment who served under Tony Blair and David Cameron. He is thought to be pro-Remain and always favours pragmatism over ideology. Ideal for a public kicking. With attitudes like this, you have to ask: who are the real saboteurs?
Austrian outcome: Our FT View says that the results from the Austrian parliamentary elections show that populism is still a problem for Europe. The success of the People’s Party shows that the far right is edging towards power and the country’s political debate has swung rightwards.
India’s potential: Eswar Prasad argues that Modi’s government must pursue serious economic reform to better India’s potential. Boosting investors confidence is key, he argues, along with controlling inflation, fixing the banking system, the labour market and infrastructure.
Sex and society: John Thornhill looks at the similarities between bicycles and the internet and how they have both encouraged sex between strangers. The rise of internet dating has cut many of the “absent ties” that traditionally dominated in the marriage market.
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What you’ve been saying
Capitalist economies are not machines - letter from Daniyal Khan:
“The ability and freedom to choose, along with the division of labour, is one of the founding principles of a capitalist economy. Central bankers are not responsible for the way labour markets are reconstituted or for the International Monetary Fund’s repeated failure to forecast inflation correctly. They also cannot force people (individually or in groups) to act a certain way any more than I can hand someone a phone and then demand payment for it — which is exactly why the notion of “masters of the universe” in a capitalist setting is misleading.”
Comment from red on London is right to prepare for no deal on Brexit:
“Many assume we will bump along to the deadline with little progress and get a deal in the eleventh hour as that’s how the EU has done its deals and dealt with crises over the last few years. However, in this case, its widely believed that the EU has little to lose and that it will come off a lot better in the event of a no deal. That and the fact that playing soft could only encourage others to consider life on the other side of the fence, strongly argues that a no deal is in fact a likely scenario. So position accordingly.”
Fed’s possible policy errors carry asymmetric risk - letter from Andrew Smithers:
“Encouraged by quantitative easing, asset prices and debt have risen to dangerous levels and are likely to decline sharply with a recession, which their fall would probably amplify. Any error by the Federal Reserve is thus likely to result in a severe recession, but one prolonged by an inability to ease even though unemployment is rising is likely to be much more severe.”
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