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One of the unfortunate side-effects of the Brexit debate in Britain, argues Gideon Rachman in his latest column, is that it has turned political analysts into the equivalent of football fans. Both Leavers and Remainers are incapable of viewing events in Europe except through the distorting optic of their own partisan allegiances.

Pro-Europeans see the election of Emmanuel Macron in France as evidence that populism has been vanquished. Europhobes, meanwhile, find support for their view that the EU is collapsing in the secessionist crisis in Catalonia.

The truth, Gideon writes, is more nuanced. While the European economy is reviving, there are long-term questions about the EU project that have still to be answered.

Modi’s mistake
Since taking power in 2014, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has sought to build the country’s manufacturing capacity by cutting barriers to foreign investment. But, writes Mary Lovely, he now seems to have reversed course. By hiking tariffs on imports, Mr Modi is risking India’s access to vital supply chains.

The technocratic temptation
Many of the denizens of Silicon Valley believe that technology is capable of solving almost any problem. There are echoes in this view, notes John Thornhill, of the “technocracy” movement that flourished in the 1930s. The history of this “revolt of the engineers” throws light, John argues, on the relationship between technology and politics today.

The perils of optimism
Liberal optimism of the kind propounded by the cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker might be intellectually respectable, argues Janan Ganesh, but it makes for terrible politics. The problem with technocratic centre ground, Janan writes, is that it leaves people hungry for more fulfilling ideologies.

Best of the rest

Student finance is broken. A graduate tax is the only solution — Simon Jenkins in The Guardian

Why China is keen to discuss CPEC with India — Jayadeva Ranade in the Hindustan Times

The vain quest of African secessionism — Joan Tilouine in Le Monde (in French)

The Trump infrastructure plan just might have one good idea for cities — Henry Grabar for Slate

The irresponsible ECB — Jürgen Stark for Project Syndicate

What you’ve been saving

Visions of post-Brexit joy are nightmarish to those in business— letter from Jeremy Leaman in response to Only a hard Brexit can bring the freedom Britain requires:

Against the background of pleas from the CBI to retain the regulatory frameworks afforded by the single market and the recent revelation that a majority of small to medium-sized enterprises recognise the value of shared EU regulations, I see no case to suddenly “consult business groups …for their preferred deregulatory options”. The vision Ms Lea conjures up of the joys of sovereign British regulatory and tax reform after a hard Brexit is arguably nightmarish to most businessmen and to those who, like me, sense the whiff of beggar-thy-neighbour politics. And it is all the more remarkable, when the UK is already regarded as highly competitive in international comparisons: ranked eighth in the latest Global Competitiveness Report and seventh in the Ease of Doing Business Index.

Comment from Johnny567 on Sadly, Brexit must mean leaving the EU single market:

The reasonable interpretation of the referendum, pursuant to respecting the ‘will of the people’ and democracy, would have been to make leaving a long term project to be achieved via treaty, instead of the forced march off a cliff edge that we have via Article 50 (never designed as a mechanism for an integral country with a large, complex economy to leave via). A sensible approach at this stage would be a unilateral reversal of Article 50 if possible (or if it means rUE 27 agreeing then getting that agreement), take a deep breath, and then do what should have been done in the first place — stand up to the most extreme elements of the Conservative party (who are radical nationalists ideologically aligned with UKIP rather than conservative), set out a 10 or 15-year plan for the UK to leave the EU via treaty negotiated as a member state, and convince the country that this is the only approach that both respects the result and avoids economic calamity.

Supermarkets want their customers to enjoy a hassle-free experience— letter from Alister French in response to Three dystopian ideas for better living through technology:

Supermarkets are in competition for customers and do not want to do anything that makes their stores harder to shop in. Changes to the selection and layout of merchandise around stores not only upset customers but also require co-ordination, extensive labour and spending on furniture. So moving your cereal is never undertaken without a great deal of careful thought.

Retailers know that an enjoyable and hassle-free in-store experience is one of the few advantages they have over the competition. They would not throw this advantage away.

Today’s opinion

Liberals risk the charge of complacency The centre ground leaves some people ravenous for more fulfilling ideologies

FT View: Labour’s PFI policies risk eroding the rule of law John McDonnell must explain his approach to public-private contracts

Narendra Modi’s rise in import tariffs will hurt India’s economy The country’s answer to a perceived Chinese threat risks detaching it from supply chains

France tackles inequality with a bold revamp of its baccalaureate A high success rate reveals a lack of academic relevance rather than equality

Instant Insight: Three ways to fix UK university financing The government must address worries about fairness in higher education

The march of the technocrats There are lessons to be learned today from the ‘revolt of the engineers’ in the 1930s

Britain sees Europe through the distorting mirror of Brexit The Leave and Remain camps are divided and incapable of dispassionate analysis

Free Lunch: The market failures of Big Tech Competition is not making the internet the best it can be

Syria: The making and unmaking of a refuge state, by Dawn Chatty An examination of the country’s generous and tolerant treatment of refugees

German energy policy is stuck in limbo The country has not managed to match deeds to words on greenhouse gas emissions

FT View

FT View: Labour’s PFI policies risk eroding the rule of law John McDonnell must explain his approach to public-private contracts

FT View: Mueller’s indictment forces a hard reckoning Russian subversion requires a unified response from the US

The Big Read

The Big Read: Tata boss: ‘I needed to stop the bleeding’ Will Natarajan Chandrasekaran be allowed to do the radical surgery some believe is necessary?

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