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21m What defines England in the age of Brexit? Its self-pity | Ian Jack
The Guardian
English writers once described the world. Now it’s easier for outsiders to see what has led the country into its current chaos I wish you’d stop talking about ‘the English’,” my wife, who is English, said. “There are all kinds of English people. We aren’t all Jacob Rees‑Mogg. I resent the idea that we can all be lumped together, that we’re all in some way to blame.” Of course, she was right. Only recently have I begun to talk about “the English”. I’ve lived in England for getting on for 50 years – admittedly in London, the country’s least representative place – and most people I know and like are English; none of them is Jacob Rees-Mogg. The crisis has brought on this bad habit. Among Brexit’s several causes, the most prominent is English nationalism, and it is easy, though mistaken, to proceed from that abstraction to the more concrete idea of the people who believe in it, and label them “the English”. The Irish writer Fintan O’Toole does it in Heroic Failure, his
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22m Crossrail reveals the depth of Britain’s north-south divide | Simon Jenkins
The Guardian
Billions more have just been announced for the delayed London rail line - yet northern infrastructure projects are killed off It’s been a great week to bury bad government. Two of the greatest infrastructure projects in the land hit financial grief. Normally it would have been headline news. Instead no one shows the slightest interest. The Department for Transport has long had a simple agenda. A cynic might sum it up as: give London anything it wants, but starve the north of investment until it gets the point and moves south. It is called regional policy, applied ruthlessly since 2010. A rail tunnel has been built under London, at nearly twice the diameter of any other line and for no other reason than to spend splendidly. Crossrail this year has demanded an extra £2.3bn on a price tag of some £15bn, with no known completion date. Worse is happening at its sister project HS2, whose £56bn budget – up from an original £34bn – has gripped its backers in mendacity for five years or more. Leaks from all over are now predicting it will cost from £80bn (the Treasury) to
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12h Winning a second Brexit referendum is possible – with Europe’s help | Jonathan Freedland
The Guardian
Instead of rerunning 2016 we should choose between May’s deal and staying in a reformed EUIf it’s not Jacob Rees-Mogg, it’s Jean-Claude Juncker, the double-barrelled duo giving Theresa May both barrels within 24 hours of each other. No sooner had the
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12h The Guardian view on Theresa May’s predicament: humiliated at home and abroad | Editorial
The Guardian
Hard Brexiters have used confusion to prosecute their damaging fantasies. The PM ought to put an end to their delusions and lies for the country’s sakeThe events in Brussels should not be overstated, nor underplayed. The prime minister has been humiliated by European leaders. Theresa May’s bid for new Brexit concessions was icily rejected by European Union leaders. They did so in the rudest possible way, with snubs and curt dismissals in front of the press. It was not good for this country that Mrs May was caught
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12h Trump needs a new chief of staff – and the hunt will reignite old and toxic rivalries
The Independent
The shallow pool of candidates for the key White House position pits together old enemies Chris Christie and Jared Kushner
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13h The Guardian view on books at Christmas: ’tis the season to be reading | Editorial
The Guardian
Books are a gift – whether given to others or bought for oneself. Take a break, put away your screens, and curl up with one of the year’s top titles or an old favouriteThe gift of reading is often a literal one at this time of year. Bookshops are full of titles that are a pleasure to look at and to own: shinily illustrated cookery and nature books, novelty titles destined for stockings and shiny parcels, children’s picture books, all the bestselling and critical hits of the past 12 months. Designers and illustrators as well as writers, editors, publishers and booksellers can take credit for the fact that books have held up better than expected since Amazon launched its Kindle in the UK almost a decade ago. E-readers may even have spurred the industry into producing more enticing and attractive titles. Perhaps surprisingly,
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13h Theresa May has returned from Brussels virtually empty-handed – but there's still hope
The Independent
There appears to be some goodwill remaining for the UK, and it is perfectly possible that, in a month's time or so, Ms May will be given some sort of piece of paper with the kinds of formulations she is demanding
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13h How anger in Washington over Khashoggi's murder has led to progress in the Yemen conflict
The Independent
Even if Trump does go on protecting the Crown Prince and Saudi Arabia he will look for something substantive in return. This is likely to include an end to the Yemeni war which the US once supported, primarily as a favour to the Saudis
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13h UK must not fail the people of South Sudan | Letters
The Guardian
On the fifth anniversary of the start of the conflict, 27 parliamentarians call on the UK government to redouble its efforts to bring about peaceOn the fifth anniversary of the start of the conflict in South Sudan, we are writing to urge Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, to redouble his efforts to bring about peace. In the grim competition for the world’s most devastating crisis, South Sudan is up there with the worst. It’s estimated that almost 400,000 people have died over the last five years, that over 4 million South Sudanese have fled their homes and that half of the country’s population are facing severe hunger. An adolescent girl in South Sudan today is three times more likely to die in childbirth than to complete primary school. Five years on, all parties to the conflict have signed a peace agreement. However, South Sudan’s short history tells us that peace is a process, not a moment, and that elite-level power-sharing deals easily fail. The South Sudanese people themselves are the only guarantors of peace in their country. The UK government’s focus must therefore be on promoting the local-level peacebuilding initiatives that address the root causes of the conflict. That means working closely with the churches, traditional leaders, women’s and youth groups, and refugee communities, to empower them to influence the implementation of this agreement. It also means pressing the transitional government to guarantee unhindered humanitarian access so NGOs can reach the 7.6 million South Sudanese who urgently need support to rebuild their lives.
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13h Harry to Cliff but not Neville to Noddy | Brief letters
The Guardian
Cliff Richard name change | Noddy Holder | Cambridge interview | Talking to children | York art gallery | Waitrose In answer to Ray Chenery (
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14h Nine-jobs George has no idea about the poverty many British workers face | Stefan Stern
The Guardian
Years of failing wages can’t be salvaged by a small pay growth – 3.3% of naff all is naff all At the risk of adding to the Christmas repeats: what about the workers? It’s a traditional question, but a good and necessary one. The official figures seem to reveal a fairly positive picture. There are high levels of employment, while unemployment remains low in spite of economic uncertainty. Earlier this week the Office for National Statistics said that pay was now growing at an
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14h Sexist adverts limit our children’s horizons. Let’s keep fighting them | Joanna Moorhead
The Guardian
Yes, we’ve moved on since the really bad old days – but as a new ruling on sexist ads show, damaging stereotypes still aboundTwentysomethings are getting fed up with what they see as an overload of political correctness, which is bad news. One young woman in my family heard a piece on Newsbeat this morning about the
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14h Theresa May didn't like being called 'nebulous'? She has turned nebulousness into an art form
The Independent
'Vague, ill-defined, ambiguous, muddy, opaque' are the most popular synonyms for 'nebulous.' Do those words, as someone once said, remind you of anybody?
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14h Brownfinger May pulls off ‘le backwards’ in Brussels and heads for Pizza Hut stardom | Marina Hyde
The Guardian
Even for aficionados of the comedy of embarrassment, this week has been a hard watchFor all the drama of her
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15h At last, we get a local bookshop. But I fear the writing is on the wall | Emma Brockes
The Guardian
We’re all celebrating this new independent venture. The trouble is, the online possibilities have spoiled customers like usA new bookshop has opened in my neighbourhood and you would think it was the second coming, the excitement it has caused. A bookshop! Opening! (Obviously, a third of the space is given over to a cafe where the cakes are roughly $2 a bite. But still.) Reports on the death of the bricks‑and‑mortar bookstore have been going on for some time, peaking last year in the US when the chain Book World closed 45 stores and
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15h A surge in the number of vegans is storing up health problems for the wealthy West
The Independent
Poorly-managed diets can leave some open to fractures and nutrient deficiencies with potentially severe consequences
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16h This is how Labour MPs could end up saving Theresa May's Brexit deal
The Independent
With so much opposition on her own benches, the most likely way to get a deal through the Commons is to secure a cross-party majority
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16h Scotland is showing how to win the fight against knife crime | Sarah Jones
The Guardian
Scotland started treating knife crime as a public health issue – and violence plummeted. The rest of the UK must follow suit
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17h Why I and so many Filipinos still feel totally invisible in the UK
The Independent
My friends in the UK listen in awe as I tell them about the turquoise waters, the incredibly fresh mango shakes, and they can hardly believe it when I mention the hundreds of thousands of us who walk amongst them on a daily basis
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17h We’ve got the degrees, so why do Muslim women struggle to get jobs? | Aina Khan
The Guardian
Austerity is partly to blame, but racism and Islamophobia are still holding us back For the last decade,
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17h Mea Culpa: Some readers are still interested in 'disinterested'
The Independent
Questions of style and usage in this week's Independent
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18h Eighteen months after the Grenfell Tower fire, lives are still at risk | Seraphima Kennedy
The Guardian
Where is justice? The inquiry is yet to make a single recommendation and delay only adds to the traumaWhen the six-month anniversary of the fire at Grenfell Tower took place at St Paul’s, one year ago today, it followed two days of procedural hearings at the Grenfell Tower inquiry. Whether or not the inquiry could deliver justice was unclear. Trust was low. Many survivors were still in hotels. It was bitterly cold. The community came together, publicly, and that evening carried green LED tealights and home-made votives along the route of the Silent Walk. When Theresa May announced the terms of reference of the Grenfell Tower inquiry, she promised a swift inquiry that would make urgent recommendations to ensure lessons were learned in the interests of public safety. The prime minister promised families would be at the heart of the process. A chairman was appointed, quickly. When families requested a panel, this was denied (three days before Christmas), because May said there was enough expertise at the inquiry. Families were told that appointing a panel would delay any interim findings and that these findings were urgent. Public safety was at stake.
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18h Scrap comedy 'safe spaces'. Satire keeps us honest
The Independent
In recent years it seems that an idea has gained traction in left-wing circles – and especially in universities – that nobody should risk making you feel too uncomfortable or challenge your notions of identity and social justice without treading exceptionally carefully
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18h Westminster has known the options since 2016. Which Brexit does it want? | Rafael Behr
The Guardian
The chaotic theatre of British politics doesn’t change facts. There are three possible approaches – and time is running outOnce again a Brussels summit and British politics cross paths like celestial bodies on intersecting orbits. For just a few moments a cold hard ball of EU reality eclipses the gaseous inferno that is Westminster. Theresa May has not secured any meaningful change to her withdrawal agreement.
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19h Beto O'Rourke may look the part, but he's no true progressive – Democrats can do better
The Independent
The left would presumably want to enact change, not just gain power for the sake of it, and O'Rourke has shown that for all his gloss and engaging rhetoric he simply doesn't seem to stand for much
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19h If I can say sorry to Theresa May, then surely David Cameron can prostrate himself before the nation
The Independent
I was forced to apologise after a daring newsagent heist when I was 14 – and the lesson has stayed with me ever since
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20h Why all feminists should back a second Brexit referendum
The Independent
A post-Brexit economic crisis could also roll back workplace rights, including parental leave, equal treatment and rights for part-time workers, into which group so many women fall
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20h Forty years on from Superman: The Movie, I still believe a man can fly | Mark O’Connell
The Guardian
Christopher Reeve’s 1978 blockbuster got my head in a spin – and was the catalyst for today’s monolithic Marvel filmsThe nuns got me into hot supermen in tight red pants. All Catholic schools in Britain of the early 1980s were fitted out with their own set of 1940s nuns. It was a less austere one who mentioned that Superman: The Movie was on television that Christmas. You’d think King of Kings would be a more Catholically apt recommendation? Maybe Sister Anne-Marie saw religious parallels in the man from Krypton’s story. Superman
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21h Thanks David Dimbleby. Now maybe Question Time can get with the times | Anne Perkins
The Guardian
The veteran broadcaster’s departure after 25 years should prompt the lumbering BBC show to ramp up its format Imagine the joy of turning to David “Brexit will be a walk in the park” Davis, live on TV, and saying: “Some people might think you ARE the joke about Brexit.” Last night David Dimbleby
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22h Raging Santas: an unholy Christmas tradition we should all buy into | Jack Bernhardt
The Guardian
Like the St Ives Santa who ripped off his beard and ranted at his young visitors, let’s celebrate our feral sides this festive seasonChristmas traditions are weird. We all drink
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22h 100 years since the last all-Ireland election, the island's future is being decided again
The Independent
In December 1918, Ireland delivered a resounding cry for independence, before being unjustly partitioned. A century later, the British are seeing their political goals thwarted by a border of their own design
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23h We are the eggs being broken for this rotten Brexit omelette | Christina Patterson
The Guardian
Politicians seem to have forgotten that our lives are on hold, and our livelihoods in jeopardy, thanks to their incompetence“The nation has a breakdown”. This was a headline on Radio 4’s PM this week. It was said in that usual Radio 4 tone of jocular irony. All rather fascinating and quite amusing. No, it isn’t. We all respond to stress in different ways. Since Monday afternoon, when I should have been trying to earn some money, I have been gripped by a migraine and the latest episode in the slow-motion national car crash, the one that was meant to
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24h Labour must prepare itself now for a second referendum | Owen Jones
The Guardian
A people’s vote will be painful and dangerous. But Labour should be ready – and avoid the mistakes of the 2016 campaign The traditional critique of the Labour left went something like this: it was made up of purists, more committed to principle and protest than power, unwilling to reach beyond its core vote to listen to the concerns of the swing voters it must attract in order to govern.
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24h Britain’s direct complicity in the war in Yemen must end | Rowan Williams
The Guardian
Millions of people face slaughter or starvation – the UK must stop sending billions in arms exports to Saudi ArabiaCount the number of times you see or hear the phrase “peace on Earth” in the next week or so. It’s one of the great Christmas themes – or great Christmas cliches, if you want to be cynical. But in the year when we remember
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