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The 2016 referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, and the messy divorce proceedings that followed, have caused significant fissures in the body politic: between young and old, urban and provincial, those with university degrees and those without. But, argues Philip Stephens in his column this week, perhaps the most consequential division of all is between the constituent nations of the United Kingdom.

While Scotland and Northern Ireland voted by handy majorities to remain in the EU, in England and Wales a majority of voters backed the campaign to leave. Brexit is best understood, Philip suggests, as an expression of English nationalism — and that has profound implications for the future of the union.

It is sometimes argued that a second Brexit referendum would be divisive. But it could just be the last chance of preserving the integrity of the UK.

Jean Tirole, the 2014 Nobel laureate in economics, writes that economists are finally coming to recognise that they can benefit from the insights of those working in the other social sciences.

Gillian Tett examines recent research which suggests that the effect of the “China shock” on US manufacturing has been less profound than some, including President Donald Trump, have supposed.

Martin Wolf contends that, given the parlous state of the UK public finances, taxes will sooner or later have to rise. The question is how.

Henry Mance confesses his bemusement at the rebranding of WeWork, the shared office provider, as the We Company.

What you’ve been saying

Modern building methods must be rigorously tested, letter from Alison Whittington, London SE1, UK

Modern methods of construction present a realistic future for the sort of rapid, affordable housebuilding required to meet the UK’s social housing needs ( January 8). Yet, new methods and materials are largely untested under duress, and so their behaviour during fire and flood events can only be predicted. Building 3m homes using these new methods on the assumption they are safe has the potential to leave millions at risk.

In response to “ How Apple’s iPhone lost its lustre”, RE Koenig says:

The only missing bit from my perspective is a required mention of the competition; in particular, Huawei’s P20 with Leica lens which demonstrates that others have been building smartphones with better features and that the “snob appeal” of a iPhone X is no longer a strong factor.

A query on revocation, letter from John Alexander, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Regarding Andrew Macdonald’s letter ( January 9), the European Court of Justice specifically excluded the possibility of revocation followed by resubmission. “Revocation …must be unequivocal and unconditional” and “brings the withdrawal procedure to an end”.

Today’s opinion

How the UK can finance the rising burden of public spending
Taxes will have to rise, but a politically palatable source of extra revenue is hard to find

What to call The Company Formerly Known As WeWork?
The We Company might want to consider ‘WeYourself’ as part of its ambitious rebrand

Lex: Halfords: cycle lame
Given the high street’s woes, cash flows will not keep up with the retailer’s optimism

Lex: China/intellectual property: patently absurd
The country receives twice as many applications as the US

Lex: Volkswagen/Ford: hitch a lift
Potential roadblocks should not prevent closer co-operation

Tail Risk: Storm-battered Lebanon raises fears over bond default
Credit markets flash warning signs over mounting debt burden

Outrage at John Bercow is the sound of a constitution working
Uproar at a move from the House of Commons Speaker is misplaced

FT Magazine: The Restaurant at The Yeatman and A Marisqueira de Matosinhos, Porto — reviews
‘The first comes highly recommended for dinner while the latter provides a meal with a decidedly local flavour’

The ‘China shock’ has not been as bad as Donald Trump thinks
Growth in service sector jobs belies the president’s vision of American ‘carnage’

FT Alphaville: Salvini taunts the EU

Economics benefits from the insights of other subjects
It is time to emulate Enlightenment thinkers and stop separating the social sciences

Global Insight: Donald Trump has become entrapped by his phantom wall
The re-election battle is creeping up while the president’s power to honour his pledge slips away

fastFT: Opening Quote: not so Super Thursday for M&S, Debs and John Lewis

Instant Insight: Congo’s election result is no victory for Joseph Kabila
The strongman’s move to back surprise winner Felix Tshisekedi could yet spell defeat

Lex: Health tech: spin-doctors
It makes sense for the largest IT companies to look for a way in

Serious Money: Veganuary: will you end up broke by eating ‘woke’?
The cost to the planet is encouraging more of us to rethink our dietary habits

The homage wardrobe: humility, hubris or plain hilarious?
From ‘Peaky Blinders’ to leading ladies, dressing like our heroes is this year’s hottest trend

FT Magazine: How Remainers should handle …remaining
‘Abandoning Brexit will be damaging — but then so are all the UK’s other options’

Brexit is the certain route to a divided Britain
MPs should not bow to claims that a second referendum would lead to trouble

Lex: Mondelez/cyber hackers: more duck than cover
Dispute with Zurich over NotPetya hack could bring clarity to the insurance industry

Lex: US shutdown/M&A: deal pickle
Deals will need more time as paper work piles up on regulators’ desks

Lombard: IWG backer looks more casual than smart after WeWork revaluation
Timing of Toscafund’s stake building might raise eyebrows in some City offices

FT View

The FT View: Donald Trump should climb down from the wall
The US president must give up his defining policy so government can reopen

The FT View: Venezuela swears in an illegitimate president
Maduro’s second term could be a tipping point to transition

The Big Read

The Big Read: Libya: the battle for peace in a failing state
Hope grows that a renewed diplomatic effort can unite warring factions in the oil exporting country

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