Instant Opinion: Brexit has left Britain ‘friendless’ not ‘global’

The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. Rafael Behr in The Guardian

on Britain’s global gamble

Brexit was meant to make Britain global. It has made us friendless

“The essential issue here is that Brexit can make EU membership go away, but not the EU itself. When the only problem was being inside, escape was the only solution worth talking about. Hardline Eurosceptics were no more bothered by the issue of how an ex-member state might manage relations with Brussels than arsonists are interested in what to do with ashes. As a result of that complacency, the UK does not have a policy towards the EU, only an impulse away from it and that is of fading relevance. No one followed us out. The fire didn’t catch… The UK is sliding into a strategic void because its only foreign policy is a plan that devalues old European alliances and shifts the balance of power to other continents when trying to make new deals. Johnson cannot address this challenge without exposing the basic flaw in Brexit, which is that the sovereignty he so jealously demands from Brussels buys no clout in Washington, Beijing or anywhere else.”

2. Alison Thomson in The Times

on the government’s tin-eared approach to women voters

Boris Johnson needs to solve his woman problem

“Mr Johnson promises he wants more women in government but only 32 per cent of Tory MPs are female. ‘There’s a problem in the pipeline,’ says Anne Jenkin, the Tory peer. Allegra Stratton recently joined Mr Sunak as his communications director, but more women are needed in Downing Street to break up Dominic Cummings’s ‘frat house’. ‘We are never in the room where it happens,’ says one frustrated female minister. When Mr Johnson was hospitalised in April, four men shared his brief, and nearly all the powerful cabinet subcommittees are made up of men… Contrast this with the female-led response of countries like Germany, New Zealand and Taiwan, which have handled Covid-19 much better. Two months ago, I was called a ‘feminazi’ by men who objected to my view that women had been dealt a worse hand in this pandemic. Now it seems even more apparent. Men may be more likely to die from the virus but women are faring worse in the post-Covid world.”

3. Allison Pearson in The Daily Telegraph

on a satorial addition to the new ‘normal

Compulsory face masks are proof the British bulldog has become the scaredy-cat of Europe

“At least making us wear masks back at the beginning of the pandemic would have made some sort of sense. Introducing a punitive new law now, with the infection rate in steep decline, seems, as does so much of the UK’s handling of coronavirus, like too little too late. Around 20 Britons a day are dying of Covid and you instruct 60 million people to cover their faces, even though the virus has largely disappeared and the vast majority would suffer no ill effects if they got it? No wonder Boris looked sheepish announcing that masks would be mandatory in shops. It’s precisely the kind of nonsensical authoritarianism he would have delighted in lampooning when he was a newspaper columnist. Who on earth is advising him?”

4. Ilayda McIntosh on HuffPost

on the reality behind the HBO-BBC hit

I May Destroy You Captures The Devastating Way The Justice System Fails Victims Of Sexual Assault

“Since 2014, there has been a 44% drop in rape prosecutions in the UK, whilst the number of reported rapes has increased by 173%… The justice system is failing rape and sexual violence victims, both female and male, time and time again. Fundamentally, we need reform. A judicial system that better educates before an individual becomes a victim. A system which provides ongoing support for survivors after; and a curriculum which prioritises the education of consent within sex and relationships education. Of course, these are just initial steps towards the formation of a just system. Admittedly, we have a long way to go, but shows such as I May Destroy You are essential to raising awareness of the system we currently have in place.”

5. Christian Cooper, writer and editor and a board member of New York City Audubon, in The New York Times

on letting white people off the hook

Why I have chosen not to aid the investigation of Amy Cooper

“Why did Cooper so easily tap into that toxic racial bias in the heat of the moment when she was looking for a leg up in our confrontation? Why is it surprising to no one that the police might come charging to her aid with special vengeance on hearing that an African American was involved? And most important of all, how do we fix policing so that scenarios such as this are replaced by a criminal justice system that is truly just and equitable to black people? Focusing on charging Amy Cooper lets white people off the hook from all that. They can scream for her head while leaving their own prejudices unexamined. They can push for her prosecution and pat themselves on the back for having done something about racism, when they’ve actually done nothing, and their own Amy Cooper remains only one purse-clutch in the presence of a black man away.”


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