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In an asymmetrical negotiation like that between Britain and the other 27 EU member states over Brexit, it is normal for one side to hold most of the cards. Yet British ministers continue to believe that the EU27 will want to strike a deal that maximises the economic benefits for all concerned.

As Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform, argues, that belief is misplaced. It is, he writes, based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the EU’s approach to these negotiations (which, in truth, are less negotiations than accession talks in reverse). Economics matters less here than a mixture of “high principles and low politics”.

The EU will brook no violation of the “four freedoms” of the single market, including free movement of people. And it has an interest in protecting European services firms from British competition, as well as stealing business from the UK in sectors such as finance and aviation.

Having already ruled out Norway-style membership of the single market, the best Britain can hope for is a free-trade agreement like the one Canada enjoys with the EU. Hopes of a “bespoke” deal, a so-called Canada-plus arrangement, are for the birds, Grant argues.

Taking a punt on the future is a risky business— markets in 2017 are odd places where no one believes that interest rates will rise, says Merryn Somerset Webb.

Why algorithms must not be left to run the economy— we shouldn’t be dazzled by the claims of Big Data advocates, argues Tim Harford. Nothing has changed since the debates about the virtues and vices of central planning in the 1930s. Markets are still the best way of allocating scarce resources — no matter how powerful and refined algorithms have become.

Art in the age of reproduction— the digital revolution raises profound questions about authenticity, writes Tristram Hunt, the former Labour MP who is now director of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Best of the week

Growing pains: Janan Ganesh argues that the capacity of the British people for quiet resignation has been overestimated. A few more years of sluggish-to-non-existent growth, and tax rises or further cuts in services, will test voters’ resistance to the siren charms of ideology.

Road test: John Thornhill writes that the widespread adoption of driverless cars can’t come soon enough. Human-driven, petrol-fuelled vehicles are responsible for many more deaths than both the AK-47 assault rifle and the nuclear bomb.

Border skirmish: Tony Connelly says that the problem with the debate over the fate of the UK-Ireland border after Brexit is that both sides have radically different interpretations of the Good Friday Agreement.

Language wars: According to Anne-Sylvaine Chassany, skirmishes in France over “inclusive language” are politics by other means.

Tribal loyalty: “It’s the economy, stupid”. The old saw has it that economic self-interest trumps all else. But, as Gillian Tett finds, new research suggests that partisan allegiance shapes people’s sense of economic wellbeing in decisive ways.

What you’ve been saying

EU will deliver clarity on scientific decisions— letter from Margaritis Schinas, Chief Spokesperson, European Commission, Brussels

“All too often, EU countries cannot decide among themselves — in this case whether or not to ban the use of the weedkiller glyphosate in herbicides — and pass the buck to the European Commission instead. At the beginning of his mandate, President Jean-Claude Juncker announced that he wants to put an end to this ‘governing by abstention’. He therefore proposed to inject more transparency and political accountability when it comes to member states casting their votes under the so-called comitology rules. Your article is, however, wrong on another point. Far from ‘scrapping the post of the chief scientific adviser’, Mr Juncker takes independent scientific advice seriously as one, but not the only, element to inform responsible policymaking.”

Comment by Paul A. Meyers on Gillian Tett’s recent column, How Donald Trump uses tribal loyalty to drive economic optimism

“The key political questions is: how far will the widening prosperity extend into the middle class? Median wages are starting to rise strongly for the first time in decades. If the middle of the electorate is feeling prosperous in November 2018, they are unlikely to vote out the Republican Congress. The Republicans might hold losses in the House to a half dozen seats or so (and with Nancy Pelosi leading House Democrats this is a distinct possibility since she too is a donor class doyenne with a political touch at least a decade out of date).”

Backing for driverless cars ignores need for debate— letter from Rupert Boswall in Kent, UK

“Sir, John Thornhill’s article ‘ Driverless cars may kill off the world’s deadliest invention’ suggests driverless cars may be thwarted by societal resistance. Yet in reality no effort is being made to consult the public about the relentless promotion of driverless cars, despite there being widespread concern about them on our road system (your report of April 20 2016 noted WhatCar? magazine’s finding that 45 per cent of UK drivers consider them unsafe)."

Today’s opinion

FT View: Corbyn’s calculated ‘threat’ to the banks
Labour is raising real concerns; but it does not have a serious answer

The Big Read: Bitcoin: an investment mania for the fake news era
The cryptocurrency has attracted people who mistrust institutions — and those looking for a way to get rich quick

FT View: Refugee plan exposes the limits of EU harmony
Estonia’s proposal is a pragmatic attempt to pre-empt the next influx

Europe holds all the cards in the Brexit talks
EU negotiators are confident Britain will eventually accept a deal on their terms

Free Lunch: Edging towards a no-border solution
More powers for Northern Ireland can crack the Brexit nut

Taking a punt, or a Bunt, on the future is a risky business
Markets in 2017 are odd places where no one believes interest rates will rise

Person in the News: Meghan Markle: a breath of fresh air for the royal family
Mixed-race, divorced and American, the actress promises to be an unconventional bride

David Allen Green’s blog: Brexit and the Irish contradiction

Fernando Pacheco, doctor and cornerman, 1927-2017
He tried to persuade Muhammad Ali to retire from the ring before it was too late

The real work of art in the age of reproduction
The digital revolution raises profound questions about authenticity

Opinion today: The end of Angela Merkel?
The indecisive election results have sapped the chancellor’s enthusiasm for governing

Undercover Economist: State-run algorithms should stay in the realm of science fiction
Market forces are more powerful than any computer

FT View

FT View: Corbyn’s calculated ‘threat’ to the banks
Labour is raising real concerns; but it does not have a serious answer

FT View: Refugee plan exposes the limits of EU harmony
Estonia’s proposal is a pragmatic attempt to pre-empt the next influx

The Big Read

The Big Read: Bitcoin: an investment mania for the fake news era
The cryptocurrency has attracted people who mistrust institutions — and those looking for a way to get rich quick

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