UK

The EU’s trade conundrum

Wallonia, a Belgian region, has rejected the proposed Ceta trade deal with Canada, all but torpedoing the agreement for good. What does this mean for the EU’s trade liberalisation agenda, transatlantic trade and the UK’s Brexit negotiations? The FT’s world news editor Ben Hall speaks with Brussels bureau chief Alex Barker and our diplomatic correspondent, Arthur Beesley.

By Gideon Rachman

Theresa May has one great advantage as a politician. She looks serious and responsible. But appearances can be deceptive. If you examine how the UK prime minister is handling Brexit, a different sort of politician emerges.

By Gideon Rachman

Journalism is sometimes said to be the first draft of history. This article is the first draft of a history exam for students graduating in 2066. I have tried to imagine the questions future historians will ask about today’s political events.

By Gideon Rachman

Two of the great political parties in the west — the Republicans in the US and Labour in the UK — are in a state of near collapse. That, in turn, threatens the health of democracy on both sides of the Atlantic.

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

“Now it’s our turn!” So said Geert Wilders (above), leader of the far-right PVV party in the Netherlands, after the UK electorate voted in last week’s referendum to leave the EU.

In practice, there is next to no chance of a Dutch referendum on EU membership — certainly not under Dutch law as it stands. However, to say this is not to underestimate the serious political challenges that lie ahead in the Netherlands. 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.

Just a few months ago the idea that Britons would vote to leave the EU seemed implausible. But to the shock of the world, that’s what they just did. A short while back the idea of Donald Trump as president seemed equally inconceivable. Does the Brexit vote tell us we should now upgrade the odds of him winning? Read more

By Gideon Rachman
David Cameron should hurry up and hold that referendum on British membership of the EU. If the UK prime minister does not get a move on, there might not be an EU left to leave.

By Gideon Rachman
When the House of Commons set out to debate military intervention in the Middle East this week, the technical issue at stake was whether the UK should extend its bombing of Isis from Iraq into Syria.


Cameron’s message to the European Union
David Cameron has set out his demands for a new relationship with the European Union ahead of a referendum on Britain’s membership. Gideon Rachman discusses how the UK prime minister’s message is being received at home and in the rest of Europe with George Parker and Alex Barker

Britain has long built its foreign policy around a special relationship with the US. The coming week will witness an attempt by the UK government to build another special relationship — this time with the People’s Republic of China. The government of David Cameron will be straining every sinew to honour President Xi Jinping, during his five-day state visit to the UK. The Chinese leader will be the guest of honour at a banquet at Buckingham Palace, he will give a speech at Westminster, he will spend time with the prime minister at Chequers and will travel to Manchester with the chancellor of the exchequer.

President Xi’s visit has been meticulously planned to provide images that will play well in China. But all this pomp could well be disrupted by some unplanned circumstances. The US Navy has let it be known that, over the next few days, it intends to challenge China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. Beijing has been bolstering these claims in recent months, by “land reclamation” exercises that have created artificial islands — some of which now host airstrips. The Americas are expected to sail within 12 miles of these new islands — to make the point that they do not accept that China has established new territorial waters in the Pacific Ocean. Read more

I was at the Greek archaeological site of Delphi last weekend, attending a conference on Europe’s future, when the news arrived that Jeremy Corbyn, a 66-year-old leftwinger, had been elected as leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party. I climbed up the hill and asked the Oracle for some predictions.

TB: Oh, Oracle, will the world see Corbyn’s triumph as irrelevant? After all, Labour’s never going to win a general election under him, so he will never be prime minister.

ORACLE: Not irrelevant, my friend, but illustrative. The world will see Corbyn’s success as one more that Britain, like a snail, is retreating from the international stage and withdrawing into itself. Read more

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  • Owning a top English football club used to be every tycoon’s dream, but five stalled sales this summer suggest the asset appears to have lost some of its lustre
  • Fears are growing that Ukraine’s Right Sector, the only big volunteer battalion Kiev has not brought under regular army control, could turn its fire on the government itself
  • The desire to avoid a power struggle within the Taliban and the Pakistan military’s push for peace talks in Afghanistan explain the silence around the death of Mullah Omar, writes Ahmed Rashid
  • Ankara is organizing Syrian rebels for an assault on the Islamic State’s last stronghold along the Turkish border and could even use its warplanes to support their advance (Foreign Policy)
  • Rohingya female migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar seeking to escape turmoil and poverty are often tricked or forced into marriages to pay smugglers for their freedom (New York Times)

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By Gideon Rachman
David Cameron’s acknowledgement that he was not greeted with a “wall of love” at last week’s EU summit demonstrated a flair for languid British understatement. In reality, the prime minister’s long-anticipated demand for a renegotiation of Britain’s membership of the EU has been met with a mixture of anger and incomprehension.

In a couple of hours time, I will be setting down at Stamford Bridge to see Chelsea play Crystal Palace and – I hope – secure the victory that will make them Premier League champions. The morning’s newspapers are full of previews of the game, as well as stories about the UK election and the continuing surge of the Scottish National Party. Reading them, I have begun to discern a connection between Scottish nationalism and English football. Here’s why. Read more

Ed Miliband outlines his foreign policy plans at Chatham House in London

If Ed Miliband becomes Britain’s prime minister next month what will this mean for the country’s foreign policy? The question is one that the UK’s allies should start considering because the prospect of him winning power is growing. Betting companies believe there is now a greater chance of Mr Miliband entering Number 10 after the May 7 election than of David Cameron returning to office.

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