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The implications of last week’s divorce settlement between Britain and the EU are still being unpicked. Will the financial agreement come in between £35bn and £39bn, as UK government sources think? Is there a solution buried away for the Northern Ireland question that chimes with a hard Brexit? And will the UK’s end state (after a transition period) be affected by the tentative deal?

Crucially, many Brexiters are trying to figure out whether Britain is heading towards a softer exit. Wolfgang Münchau argues in his column that for all intents and purposes, Theresa May has agreed to keep the UK in the single market and customs union. He says that pursuing regulatory alignment in Northern Ireland, along with commitments not to raise extra borders within the UK or on the island of Ireland, means that regulatory divergence is not going to be on the cards.

This interpretation of the deal raises the stakes for the long overdue Cabinet discussion about the UK’s final destination. It is pencilled in for December 19, although reports this weekend said the prime minister is keen to avoid a row breaking out between the hard and soft Brexit factions in government. Instead, she wants to find a compromise that pleases all her colleagues. Before 2017 draws to a close, we might yet find out what Brexit means Brexit means in practice.

Best of the rest

Al Franken’s Resignation and the Selective Force of #MeToo — Masha Gessen in The New Yorker

The New Jerusalem of Brexit is revealing itself to be a mirage — Matthew d’Ancona in The Guardian

A Foreign Policy for ‘Jacksonian America’ — Jason Willick in The Wall Street Journal

Roy Moore’s Alabama — Howell Raines in The New York Times

Brexit has brought the Irish problem back — Anne Applebaum in The Washington Post

What you’ve been saying

Our ethnic minorities can feel completely lost when living with Alzheimer’s — letter from David Truswell, Chair, Dementia Alliance for Culture and Ethnicity

“We want to tackle the often-held assumptions that dementia doesn’t happen so much in ethnic minority communities (in fact some communities such as the African-Caribbean community have higher risk of dementia than the white UK community) and that minority communities should be left alone to “look after their own”. Many people from minority ethnic communities feel completely lost when it comes to living with dementia and supporting family members living with dementia. They often feel they don’t know what to to do for the best or where to turn to for help. Personal migration histories may mean that many people from some ethnic communities, for example in the Irish community, live alone with dementia and do not have family carer support.”

Comment by Bryan on David Allen Green’s blog, Brexit: what regulatory alignment means and does not mean

“The Good Friday Agreement and the peace it turns out can'’ be taken for granted and when it comes down to it — facts on the ground trump golden unicorns in the air. The GFA is a seminal achievement in bringing peace to NI which also enabled (enables) post-UK Ireland and rUK back into the same — some of us would argue natural space of reliance, partnership — friendship Bluntly stated peace between Ireland and Britain over Northern Ireland is enabled by Europe. It's not possible to walk away from Europe without undermining the peace or undermining the UK union.”

Not everyone is online savvy and some have no wish to be — letter from Penny Clarke, Norwich, Norfolk, UK

“Sir, Hooray for Claer Barrett! It was wonderful to hear her on Radio 4’s PM programme the other Friday standing up for those of us who do not wish (or are unable) to use online banking. I am not online savvy, and when one hears with monotonous regularity of large organisations being hacked and then covering it up, sometime for years, I have no wish to be.”

Today’s opinion

Invest in workers, not tax cuts, to boost US productivity Too often labour has been viewed as a balance sheet cost rather than as an asset

US economy faces a painful comedown from its ‘sugar high’ Signs of strength are largely unrelated to government policy

President Trump has a chance to bring peace to the Middle East The city first and foremost belongs to its people, Arab and Jew

Gavyn Davies’ blog: Global growth in 2018 — slowing but not slow

Theresa May wants to sneak back into Europe’s single market The Brussels agreement represents a powerful reminder that Britain is leaving the EU

FT View

FT View: South Africa’s ANC faces its day of reckoning The movement has a chance to reverse damage done by Jacob Zuma

FT View: The plastics suffocating life within our oceans Companies worldwide need incentives to find less harmful substitutes

The Big Read

The Big Read: Saudi Aramco plans for a life after oil The IPO is likely to be the biggest in history, but what will investors be buying?

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