Experimental feature

Listen to this article

00:00
00:00
Experimental feature

This article is from today’s FT Opinion email. Sign up to receive a daily digest of the big issues straight to your inbox.

Martin Fayulu, the oil executive turned political leader who won the Democratic Republic of Congo’s historic presidential vote only to see someone else declared the victor, is a rare breed among the country's politicians, writes Tom Wilson in a profile. A true outsider who has not held posts in government or the main opposition groups, he was initially dismissed as a marginal candidate ahead of last month's election.

But for many Congolese people, who have suffered for years at the hands of corrupt and self-serving officials, that was a good reason to support him. The son of a worker at a Belgian-Congolese industrial plant and a market trader, he studied in France and had a 19-year career in the international oil industry. Although he has officially lost, he continues to fight on, and other African heads of state weighed in on his behalf, questioning the published results. “I will be the president to restore the rule of law so Congo can recover its dignity,” Mr Fayulu says.

Tim Harford draws Brexit lessons from the wreck of the Torrey Canyon oil tanker. Sometimes the idea of changing tack becomes literally unthinkable.

John McDonnell, the UK shadow chancellor, argues that the Conservatives must stop their political game-playing because voters need decisive action, and soon. The alternative is greater disillusionment.

Jeffrey Sachs, the Columbia University professor, writes that US president Donald Trump's cold war tactics will not work with China. Beijing will not crumble as the Soviets did in the 1980s.

Kate Maltby watches the new Mary Queen of Scots film and concludes it is a bad lesson in good feminism. The Tudor-Stuart saga obscures lessons about women’s agency and power.

Joseph Cotterill, the FT's southern Africa correspondent, imagines how Brexit Britain would be covered if it were in his region. His “dispatches from our correspondent in a dark and isolated island” explain that a new dawn is rising in the ramshackle state off the coast of continental Europe.

Camilla Cavendish writes that she sees glimmers of hope as UK MPs step over the wreckage to avoid a no-deal Brexit. Compromise was always a British virtue but time is running out to prove that is still the case.

Best of the week

Brexiters’ delusions on trade die hard— Gideon Rachman

Trump struggles to be the Middle East’s anti-Obama— Roula Khalaf

Wildfires are too hot for one utility to handle— John Gapper

Theresa May’s drubbing points to a Brexit delay— Robert Shrimsley

Davos climate concerns contain clues for policymaking— Gillian Tett

Theresa May has one last throw of the Brexit dice— Philip Stephens

Shutdown showmanship in America’s national parks— Leslie Hook

Britain’s blue-collar immigration plan is superficial— Sarah O'Connor

The euro at 20: the eurozone is doomed to succeed— Martin Wolf

What you’ve been saying

Time for May to Channel Churchill, letter from Edward Pretty, Sydney, Australia.

Theresa May’s parliamentary defeat (FT.com, January 15) is a historic Churchillian opportunity for the prime minister to say: “I did my best to honour the outcome of the last referendum and the parliament’s subsequent resolution to implement Article 50. I am now compelled to respond to the parliament’s decision to reject the Brexit terms tirelessly negotiated during my time as PM.”

In response to “ Brexit lessons from the wreck of the Torrey canyon”, Harry Parkes says:

In the circumstances, perhaps an even more apt analogy would have been the destruction of the British fleet on the Scillies some 200 years earlier. The admiral in charge, Sir Cloudesley Shovell, was warned by an experienced midshipman that he was dangerously off course bit instead of listening, he promptly hanged the midshipman for his temerity and impertinence.

Automatic enrolment could ease pensions crisis, letter from John Ralfe, Nottingham, UK.

Former pensions minister Steve Webb argues that because of “the huge tax advantages” all self-employed people should be automatically enrolled into a pension, just like employees (Letters, January 17). His comments are incomplete at best, and wrong at worst. Although there is certainly a tax break on pension savings, Sir Steve ignores taxation on these savings when they are received as a pension in retirement. End to end the only tax advantage from pension saving is in the tax-free lump sum — small for a 20 per cent taxpayer. Because of the ups-and-downs of self-employed income — I speak as one who knows — people need to be able to get their hands on their savings. Pension saving is locked away for many years, exactly what self-employed people do not want.

Today's opinion

On Wall Street: The real risk to US Treasuries is not China playing games
Investors focused on the US-China spat should look at broader market shifts

A new dawn rises in the ramshackle state of Brexit Britain
Dispatches from our correspondent in a dark and isolated island nation

Lex: Ryanair: clipped wings
Carrier has had to work hard to keep passenger numbers growing

Lex: Renault/Nissan: French evolution
Decisive action on Ghosn’s role should shore up Renault-Nissan relations

Glimmers of hope as MPs step over the wreckage to avoid no-deal Brexit
Compromise was always a British virtue but time is running out to prove that is still the case

Donald Trump’s cold war tactics will not work with China
The Chinese will not crumble as the Soviets did in the 1980s

The Top Line: Santander board shows its mettle over Andrea Orcel deal
Corporate governance at work as Spanish lender discovers its backbone

The Conservatives must stop their political game-playing
Voters need decisive action, and soon. The alternative is greater disillusionment

The unshowy virtues of Andy Murray
Murray could be less of a sensory feast to watch than his rivals — but his value was in substance, not style

FT Magazine: First Brexit — now Gove wants my wood-burning stove
‘I’m not inherently against biomass fuel but I’m not sure I want to make a feature of it in the living room’

FT Magazine: Jancis Robinson picks the best of the Burgundy 2017s
‘Most of Burgundy escaped the unusually severe late-April frosts that shrivelled the 2017 grape harvest’

Gardeners bid goodbye to a cruel year
The full wrath of Mother Nature in 2018 ranged from frost to drought

Free Lunch: Secure funding is in governments’ own hands
Sovereign borrowers can make their liabilities safer without safe assets

Inside London: Apocalypse now talk has drowned out Brexit opportunities
Calmer minds will be looking beyond March 29 and seeing bargains in British businesses

FT Alphaville: China's case of 'cakeism'

Ingram Pinn’s illustration of the week: A tale of two cities
London and Washington deadlock

Undercover Economist: Brexit lessons from the wreck of the Torrey Canyon
Sometimes the idea of changing tack becomes literally unthinkable

Serious Money: The curse of the to-do list: is ‘life admin’ taking over your life?
As soon as I tick tasks off, new ones appear

Tattoo too much?
Semi-permanent treatments for the face are proving to be increasingly popular for the time-poor among us

Stop worrying about Brexit — it’s time to invest in UK assets
For investors, too much misery may now be embedded in the price of UK assets

FTfm: PG&E’s looming bankruptcy is ominous for green power

City Insider: Ana Botin breaks family ties with Orcel U-turn
Failure to finalise bank chief transfer leaves a sour taste on both sides

Tail Risk: Geopolitical dangers abound for global oil supply
Doubts linger over the steadiness of production in Iran, Nigeria, Libya and Venezuela

Markets Insight: Mifid II hysteria over analyst research appears misplaced
Claims that new EU regulations will leave smaller companies unloved are questionable

Lombard: Will investors check out of Whitbread after £3.9bn coffee deal?
Chief Alison Brittain struggles with vacant rooms in UK and Germany

Lex: Morgan Stanley: pay pal
Deferred pay had become an issue for junior bankers

FT View

The FT View: The weakness in trade goes beyond a tariff war
Economies with surpluses should do more to boost domestic demand

The FT View: Jack Bogle: the selfless preacher of the passive revolution
Financial pioneer helped people invest their money wisely and cheaply

The Big Read

The Big Read: Have the Conservative party’s Eurosceptics blown Brexit?
The fervent opposition of Brexiter MPs has opened the way to a softer agreement or even a new referendum

Get alerts on Opinion when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.

Follow the topics in this article