Chilcot report issues damning verdict on Iraq war

This week’s Chilcot report delivered a damning verdict on Britain’s decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003. The UK’s political, military and intelligence establishments were all implicated, but particular criticism was reserved for Tony Blair, the former prime minister. Daniel Dombey discusses the report’s findings with the FT’s James Blitz and Roula Khalaf

By Gideon Rachman

More than a decade ago, I had a curious conversation with Nigel Farage in a restaurant in Strasbourg. The outgoing leader of the UK Independence party told me that his hobby was leading tours of the battlefields of the first world war. He said he was sure that, if it came to it, Britain could again summon up the martial spirit that saw it through the Great War. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

All good dramas involve the suspension of disbelief. So it was with Brexit. I went to bed at 4am on Friday depressed that Britain had voted to leave the EU. The following day my gloom only deepened. But then, belatedly, I realised that I have seen this film before. I know how it ends. And it does not end with the UK leaving Europe.

With just a day to go before voting, the result of the British referendum on EU membership is anybody’s guess. The most recent FT poll-of-polls has Leave ahead by 45-44 – and there will be further polls released later today. Those hopeful Remainers who thought they had spotted a potentially decisive surge to their side late last week have been disappointed, as some recent polls have seen a swing back to Leave.

Both sides have an extra factor from which they take comfort. The Remain side point to the fact that the bookmakers still predict that Britain will vote to Remain inside the EU – Ladbrokes, my local turf accountants, are offering odds of 3-1 against Brexit. But the pro-Leave camp have a different source of encouragement. They are boosted by the extremely strong pro-Leave sentiment that many MPs are encountering on the doorsteps, as they campaign. One pro-Leave campaigner says that if that sentiment is genuinely reflected at the ballot box, he would not be surprised if his side wins by as much as 57-43. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

I just want the EU referendum to be over now. The horrific killing of Jo Cox, only a week before the vote, will overshadow the result, whatever it is.

By Gideon Rachman

Donald Trump’s reaction to the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando was revealing. “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamist terrorism”, tweeted the Republican party candidate for the US presidency.

Over the years, I’ve followed stories of English football hooliganism around the world with a certain grim fascination. Last night, unfortunately, I got to witness it first hand – at the England-Russia game at Euro 2016 in Marseilles.

During the day it is not hard to avoid the trouble. Just avoid city-centre bars full of singing, chanting drunkards. Nearer the ground things got nastier. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

In the referendum campaign on Britain’s membership of the EU, each side has one trump card that they will play repeatedly until voting day on June 23. The Remain camp will talk about the economy. The Leavers will talk about immigration. Read more

Politicians all over the world are struggling to cope with the new world of social media. Donald Trump has proved particularly adept at abusing his opponents on Twitter. But there are also gentler ways of attracting attention. One increasingly popular stratagem for politicians is to post photos of their cats – which are far more likely to attract likes and retweets than any number of dull policy documents.

Two prominent cat-lovers who have risen to power over the last year are the new president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party. Both leaders are single, but are noted for their devotion to their cats. President Tsai has kept a low profile about her relationships with humans – but has posted frequent updates and videos about her cats. Her aides admit that these are considerably more popular than her policy pronouncements. A recent FT profile of Kaczynski noted that he “prefers to spend his evenings at home with his cat”. Photos of the Polish leader with his ginger moggy have tended to soften his rather authoritarian image. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

Politics in the west are so dramatic at the moment that China can look relatively staid and stable by comparison. But that impression is deceptive. Xi Jinping is taking his country in radical and risky new directions.

By Gideon Rachman

The rise of Donald Trump has been accompanied by predictable murmurs of “only in America”. But the Trump phenomenon is better understood as part of a global trend: the return of the “strongman” leader in international politics.

By Gideon Rachman

The rise of Donald Trump has been accompanied by predictable murmurs of “only in America”. But the Trump phenomenon is better understood as part of a global trend: the return of the “strongman” leader in international politics.

By Gideon Rachman

The news that Donald Trump has in effect secured the Republican party’s nomination for the US presidency took me back to Europe in 2002. Back then it was a huge shock when Jean-Marie Le Pen, a far-right candidate, made it through to the last two in the French presidential election. I remember going to the EU press room in Brussels the morning after Mr Le Pen’s initial success, and witnessing the horror and shame of my French colleagues.

By Gideon Rachman

Last week, as President Obama entertained the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner and Britain indulged in a bizarre debate about whether Hitler was a Zionist, more than 200 people were killed in a brutal bombardment of Aleppo. The breakdown of Syria’s fragile ceasefire promises yet more suffering in a five-year long war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and created millions of refugees.

By Gideon Rachman

When supporters of the Vote Leave campaign sketch out a future for Britain outside the EU, they often point to the Anglosphere of English-speaking nations — bequeathed by Britain’s imperial past. So Barack Obama’s intervention in Britain’s EU referendum last week was a potentially devastating moment for the Brexit campaign. Here was the president of the US — the most powerful member of the Anglosphere — arguing forcefully for Britain to stay inside the EU.

Albania: A role model for Britain?

For several weeks, the “Leave” campaign seemed to be having the better of Britain’s debate on whether to stay in the EU. But the last few days have been much better for Remain. The arrival of President Obama on Thursday – who is expected to endorse British membership of the EU – will boost the pro-Europeans. The UK Treasury has just released a heavyweight report on the negative economic consequences of Brexit, which the Leave side has had difficulty refuting.

But, perhaps most important development of all has been a dangerous gaffe by Michael Gove, the pro-Brexit Justice Secretary – who, in a speech on Tuesday, appeared to suggest that Albania would be a suitable model for post-Brexit Britain. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

The way the press treats political leaders marks a crucial dividing line between free and authoritarian countries. In an authoritarian state, presidents and prime ministers demand and receive reverential treatment. In democratic countries, political leaders know that they will be subject to satire — and vicious and sometimes unfair criticism.

By Gideon Rachman

It is the morning of June 24th. Britain has just voted narrowly to leave the EU. Jubilant pro-Brexit campaigners wave Union Jacks in Trafalgar Square. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

What is the link between the following political scandals? The Petrobras case in Brazil, the 1MDB affair in Malaysia, the unravelling of Fifa, the prosecution of a French minister and a party funding row in Spain. The answer is Swiss bank accounts.

By Gideon Rachman

The British debate about Brexit, at the moment, reminds me of the discussions I heard in the US, late last year, about Donald Trump. Back then the opinion polls said that Mr Trump was well ahead in the race. But the conventional wisdom in Washington was that he would never win the Republican presidential nomination. Everybody told me that, once voters focused on the race, Mr Trump’s lead would crumble.