Listen to this article
This is an experimental feature. Give us your feedback. Thank you for your feedback.
What do you think?
Sign up to receive FirstFT by email here
Test your knowledge with the week in news quiz.
Opponents of Brexit were smiling in the UK on Friday after voters in south-west London overturned a comfortable Conservative majority in favour of the pro-EU Liberal Democrats. The winning candidate, Sarah Olney, campaigned on an anti-Brexit platform and the result was seen as a rebuke to prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans. Lib Dem party leader Tim Farron said the result would “terrify” the ruling Conservatives and was a vote for an “open, tolerant and united Britain”.
The British pound made gains in early European trading on the news, a day after rising following Brexit minister David Davis conceding in parliament that the UK might be willing to pay into the EU budget to retain access to European markets. (FT, Times)
In the news
French shock France’s political class is reeling after François Hollande decided not to seek re-election next year, underlining the disarray of the deeply unpopular president’s Socialist party five months before presidential elections. He is the first president since the second world war not to seek a second term, but has compelling reasons for his decision. The FT’s Gideon Rachman argues that the removal of Mr Hollande from the picture opens up “intriguing possibilities”. (FT, Wapo)
Austria divided The re-run of Austria’s presidential election on Sunday has highlighted the country’s polarised electorate. Polls show far-right populist Norbert Hofer and Green-backed Alexander Van der Bellen running neck and neck ahead of the vote. A win for Mr Hofer would also be another blow to Europe’s political mainstream following Brexit. Last May’s poll was overturned by the constitutional court because of “irregularities” in the processing of the postal vote. (Guardian)
Saudi prince’s Opec gamble Saudi deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman was instrumental in the oil cartel’s agreement to cut production this week. The low price of oil was putting his bold plans to move Saudi Arabia’s economy beyond oil in jeopardy, threatening his political future. (FT)
Cyprus reunification talks Talks to reunify the divided Mediterranean island are back on track after Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı agreed to resume talks on where to draw the boundary between the two entities in January. Talks broke off last month over the issue. (Politico)
The rise of ‘shrinkflation’ Changing the packet sizes of Cadbury Creme Eggs, Mr Kipling cakes and other favourite foods is the latest weapon in the fight to maintain margins amid rising costs. (FT)
Test your knowledge with the week in news quiz. Who won the French centre-right presidential nomination?
It’s a big day for
The US economy Data are expected to show a gain of 175,000 jobs in November, indicating a slight uptick in hiring from the previous month. The data will be released on the heels of a rise in jobless claims during the final week of November. (WSJ)
Food for thought
The populist right sweeps aside the left The FT’s Philip Stephens argues that populism can only be beaten from the hard centre. (FT)
Angela Merkel: ‘her life’s work is in danger’ The longest-serving leader of a global power — bar Russia’s Vladimir Putin — knows that this will only be the beginning of what she says will be “the most difficult” election campaign since German reunification in 1990. (FT)
K-Pop and make-up boom in China Political relations between Beijing and Seoul may be strained over China’s official displeasure with South sKorea’s agreement with the US to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, but it has done little to dent the popularity of Korean pop music and cosmetics among young Chinese. (NAR)
Magic mushrooms heal Psilocybin — the key psychoactive agent in ‘shrooms — has been illegal in the US for more than 40 years. But a new study shows that 80 per cent of cancer patients showed significant reductions in anxiety and depression after using the drug. (NYT)
A most dangerous time Stephen Hawking on why “we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity”. (Guardian)
Video of the day
Tony Blair and the battle over Brexit The former pro-European UK prime minister has set out his ambition to return to more active political life. Dan Dombey and Janan Ganesh discuss his role. (FT)