LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (R) and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar shake hands at a joint press conference after talks at 10 Downing Street on June 19, 2017 in London, England. The new Irish Taoiseach said he had been reassured about a potential deal between the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) after raising concerns about the deal with the Prime Minister. (Photo by Philip Toscano - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Irish taoiseach Leo Varadkar and UK prime minister Theresa May meeting in London this year © Getty

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Brexit has put the heaviest strain on relations between London and Dublin for many years. Negotiations on the UK’s exit from the EU are proving as difficult and dangerous for Ireland’s economy as for that of the Brits themselves.

Arthur Beesley analyses the prospects for a resolution of the current impasse in the Brexit negotiations in our Big Read, pointing out that Leo Varadkar, the Irish Taoiseach, has his own weak domestic position to defend — another reason why Dublin is playing hardball over preventing a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Ten years on from the financial crash that left Ireland reeling, Mr Varadkar’s government cannot afford to see the UK’s divorce from the EU depress his country’s economy again. Meanwhile, disagreements over how (and even where) a customs border might operate bring problems for Theresa May, who governs with the support of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party. It could even endanger the peace process. The stakes could scarcely be higher for all sides.

From Pollyanna to Cassandra: Chris Giles defends the Office for Budget Responsibility’s gloomy, but reasonable, forecasts in this week’s Budget

Germany turns inward: Philip Stephens says Angela Merkel is down but not out, and she and her nation may have lost the appetite to lead Europe

Cultural reckoning: Gillian Tett argues that the deluge of sexual harassment stories marks how information cascades through social media to effect social change

The test that fails: Federica Cocco describes her irritation at the whimsical UK citizenship questionnaire and its many errors

Best of the rest

In this Budget, Theresa May bent Hammond to her will — Nick Timothy in The Daily Telegraph approves of Treasury moves to address the productivity crisis

Likely lad reveals what snobs we all are — David Aaronovitch in The Times explains the peculiar British resistance to social mobility

We’ll be paying for Mark Halperin’s sins for years to come — Eve Fairbanks for BuzzFeed argues that Washington is run like an exclusive club

The fourth industrial revolution is upon us — Jim Hoagland in the Washington Post says this latest wave of tech innovation is different

What you’ve been saying

Rule that keeps wonderful Copenhagen affordable — letter by Sam Dunkley in London

“If our politicians are genuinely concerned about this they should emulate Denmark, where foreigners cannot buy property unless they have already lived in the country for five years. This sensible safeguard has made ‘wonderful Copenhagen’ relatively affordable and not blighted with empty tower blocks of flats. Will any MP try for a private member’s bill to raise this?”

Comment from El Condor Pasa on Philip Stephens’s recent column, Stop the world. Germany is stepping off

“If you follow Dutch politics, but who does, the similarities are striking: strong losses of the social democrat junior party in the government, hardly a workable majority possible, and the preferred coalition appears impossible due to discussions about the refugee policy. In the Dutch case it were the Greens that hesitated, not the liberals. Difference is that Germany lacks the small parties that make other coalitions feasible in the Hague.”

Philanthropists can lead the way in rural Africa — letter by Michael Street in Sicily

“In the past 25 years in Africa a vast mounting of ‘rethinking’ in agriculture and rural development has been going on at all levels and integration is now seen as key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. What is holding back investment is the lack of suitable large-scale models.”

Today’s opinion

FT View: Net neutrality rules are worth keeping — for now
Competition and technology have not yet made the regulations obsolete

Trump and the ‘information cascade’ created a cultural reckoning
Some fear that the harassment backlash is turning into a witch hunt

Predictions for the UK economy may be gloomy but are reasonable
Its growth outlook has almost halved in two years, uniting economists against it

Free Lunch: Hammond’s housing hopes
In one area, the Budget makes some promising moves

EM Squared: China makes inroads in its battle against inequality
Latin America leads global trend towards greater equality this millennium

Lies, damned lies and citizenship tests
The UK exam questions may be whimsical, but they are riddled with statistical errors

FT Alphaville: What the foreign direct investment data tell us about corporate tax avoidance

FT Alphaville: Guest post: Time for a UK sovereign wealth fund

FT View

FT View: Net neutrality rules are worth keeping — for now
Competition and technology have not yet made the regulations obsolete

FT View: The blood and sweat in phones and batteries
Cleaning up supply chains is a necessary part of defending a brand

FT View: Flying near blind towards Brexit, Hammond’s Budget puts safety first
The chancellor’s task was to equip Britain for a future outside the EU — and to survive

The Big Read

The Big Read: Brexit: Battle over Irish border threatens EU-UK trade talks
Dublin, rattled by prospect of damaging its €65bn annual trade with its biggest market, could derail negotiations

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