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Thu 2 Jun 2016 / North America

Trump’s success and Obama’s disdain

US President Barack Obama broke with longstanding precedent to disparage a presidential candidate publicly in a foreign setting. He used the occasion of the G7 summit in Japan to say that world leaders are 'rattled' by Donald Trump, the tycoon and presumptive Republican nominee, 'and for good reason', because of his 'ignorance of world affairs' and 'cavalier attitude'. Yet the president's disdain, in a nutshell, is why Trump is a serious contender to win November's election.

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Fri 10 Jun 2016 / Europe

Fact and fiction

Eurosceptics put forward a stream of mainly fictional ideas about the economic costs of European Union membership. The myth-peddlers cling to them doggedly, however many times they are refuted by academic research. These dubious notions provide a form of comfort blanket: the simple act of quitting the EU would inject oxygen into a suffocating British economy and resolve many complex social and economic problems.

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Wed 22 Jun 2016 / Europe

Wisdom of the British crowd

With the barrage of facts, opinions and predictions on the EU swirling around the UK, the British public got the referendum debate it asked for. Months ago, whenever the EU was raised in discussions on television or radio, voters voiced a constant complaint: ‘They’, government and the politicians, were not giving ‘us’ the information needed to make an informed decision. The result was a relentless campaign that frequently mutated into a spiral of apocalyptic warnings of impending disaster should Britain either leave or stay.

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Wed 22 Jun 2016 / Europe

Britons’ hard lessons on counterfactual thinking

Barney Frank, the former US congressman famed for his role in promoting post-2009 financial regulation as House of Representatives financial services committee chairman, once commented: ‘I envy academic people. They can talk about counterfactuals. There are no counterfactuals in politics!’ Thursday’s referendum will test the validity of the proposition.

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Wed 22 Jun 2016 / Europe

No more taboos: Now we’ll find out if it’s adiEU

Across the Channel we have watched the European Union plebiscite unfold with worry. If ‘Brexit’ wins, my fear for the last three years, we can safely expect a fiesta for eurosceptic parties over the summer, with Vladimir Putin happy to propose vodka as an alternative to champagne and spumante. Yet there is another side to the Brexit campaign that I consider historic in nature and may turn into a blessing for the EU, possibly even the cornerstone of its revival: the end of taboos.

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Wed 22 Jun 2016 / Europe

Oversights of the Brexit brigade

Gordon Brown is widely credited with making a crucial last-minute intervention when it appeared as though the September 2014 Scottish referendum was going to produce a vote to leave the UK. With opinion polls pointing to a neck-and-neck finish, the former UK prime minister has been brought into the fray again – this time to prevent a British exit from the EU. In 'Britain: Leading, Not Leaving', a wide-ranging history of the UK's relations with the rest of the EU, Brown makes a powerful case for Remain.

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Fri 17 Jun 2016 / Europe

Remain no longer a racing certainty

As the 23 June referendum approaches and the nation seems (in my opinion insanely) heading for a plunge into the ‘Brexit unknown’, I fear my Remain colleagues can no longer derive much comfort from the disparity between the predictions of the opinion polls and the bookmakers. We Remainers can no longer cite the bookies as indicating we should not be so worried about the very close – and in some cases pro-Brexit – outcome that the polls are indicating.

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Sun 12 Jun 2016 / Europe

Safeguarding Britain’s interests

Much of the debate surrounding Britain’s EU membership has focused on economic arguments. This ignores the EU’s positive impact on the development of Europe itself, and on the rest of the world. Do we really want to cede influence to the US, Germany and France over issues of such deep concern to us? Or do we want to continue to exert our influence over Europe’s future and its role in the world? The US wants us to do so, as does every member of the EU and our major Commonwealth partners.

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Thu 2 Jun 2016 / Europe

Why we shouldn’t heed Brexit myths

In the European Union referendum campaign, neither the Remain nor the Leave camp has a monopoly on hyperbole. Whether in defence or economics, both are exaggerating. One must be sceptical, and use one’s own judgment and experience in making up one’s mind. Lemmings jump over cliffs. They must be right when all others are doing so. Mostly they are wrong.

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Thu 30 Jun 2016 / Europe

Cross-channel currents

The mood here is almost as confused as it is in Westminster. Regional paper Ouest-France is not unsympathetic to David Cameron, the British prime minister. Other papers, by contrast, have rounded on François Hollande, the French president, who they say ‘did nothing while the life-blood of EU harmony seeped away, and now has no idea how to revive the corpse’. Elsewhere there are fears that there will be no deal between the UK and the EU ‘because the EU-27 do not and cannot speak with one voice’.

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