The defeat of Roy Moore in Alabama is a rare moment to lift the spirits | Jonathan Freedland

It’s a grievous blow for Donald Trump, but can Moore’s loss in staunchly Republican Alabama start a pushback against the forces of hate? We can but hope

That unfamiliar sensation you experienced this morning? It’s the feeling you get when, at long last, you wake up to some good political news from America. For progressives around the world who would prefer to admire rather than to revile the United States, the last 13 months have brought cause only for despair. But the defeat of Roy Moore – who believes homosexuality should be illegal and that America was at its best in the age of slavery – is a moment to lift the spirits.

That a man of such vileness, also accused of being a child molester, should lose to a Democrat in deeply conservative, unbreakably Republican Alabama is more heartening still. It represents a grievous blow to Donald Trump, who endorsed Moore and campaigned for him, revealing the limits to the president’s supposed electoral magnetism.


Related: Democratic euphoria as Doug Jones wins Alabama - in pictures

Related: Roy Moore’s stunning defeat reveals the red line for Trump-style politics | Richard Wolffe

Continue reading...

Theresa May’s EU deal will postpone the pain of Brexit, but won’t prevent it | Jonathan Freedland

A Brexishambles has been avoided, but the crucial question of the hard border in Ireland remains unresolved

The least important consequence of Theresa May’s dawn breakthrough in Brussels is that it might well have saved her premiership. After Monday’s Brexishambles, in which the prime minister had to tell Jean-Claude Juncker to put the cork back in the champagne thanks to a party-pooping call from the DUP, the clock was ticking on the prime minister. Failure to strike an agreement that satisfied both her Belfast allies and the negotiators in Brussels would, in the eyes of many Tory MPs, have removed the chief justification for her continued tenure in Downing Street: namely, that she can deliver Brexit. The Tory regicidal instinct, never still, was twitching.

Related: 'Sufficient progress' in Brexit talks announced after May's dash to Brussels

Related: How Brexit will unfold – Britain will get a deal, but it’ll come at a price | Charles Grant

Continue reading...

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem statement is an act of diplomatic arson | Jonathan Freedland

The US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel turns a naked flame on the single most combustible issue in the conflict

Not content with taking the US to the brink of nuclear conflict with North Korea, Donald Trump is now set to apply his strategy of international vandalism to perhaps the most sensitive geopolitical hotspot in the world. With a speech scheduled for later today that’s expected to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and reaffirm a pledge to move the US embassy to the city, he is walking into a bone-dry forest with a naked flame.

For the status of Jerusalem is the most intractable issue in what is often described as the world’s most intractable conflict. It is the issue that has foiled multiple efforts at peacemaking over several decades. Both Israelis and Palestinians insist that Jerusalem must be the capital of their states, present and future, and that that status is non-negotiable.

Related: Trump to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move US embassy

Continue reading...

In the age of Trump, it’s time to ditch the special relationship | Jonathan Freedland

For too long Britain has been neurotic about its links to the US. The president’s hate-filled tweets must make us more hard-headed

When Donald Trump took the oath of office, less than 11 months ago, the word of the hour was normalisation. Let’s not treat this man like a normal president, his US opponents said, because he’s not. You can’t, for example, assume that most of what he or his White House says is the truth – as you would for a normal occupant of that office – because he is a serial and proven liar. And sometimes it will not be enough to describe his words or deeds as “controversial” or “racially charged”, because the right word will be “racist”.

For most of the past year, that normalisation debate has raged chiefly inside the US. But now it is a global question. Put simply, how should the peoples of the world handle Donald Trump?

Related: Trump's Twitter attack only serves to increase UK's post-Brexit angst | Patrick Wintour

It was the driving spirit behind Tony Blair’s catastrophic decision to support the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003

Related: Trump retweeted anti-Muslim videos to 'elevate the conversation', White House claims

Continue reading...

£50bn to leave the EU. What an unforgivable waste of money | Jonathan Freedland

Farage wants to walk away, Grayling thinks it’s good value. Either way, Brexiteers promised people something they couldn’t deliver

Well, at least the City folks like it. The pound shot up in value on the news that Britain is ready to settle its European bill to the tune of £50bn or more, as investors dared to glimpse some light at the end of the Brexit tunnel. Their hope is the same as Theresa May’s: that once Britain has agreed to pay up in full – including for liabilities stretching decades into the future – the remaining 27 EU leaders will allow the Brexit talks to move away, at last, from the terms of the divorce settlement, and on to the future relationship between the UK and the rest of Europe.

May should bask in the delight of the traders, because theirs may be the only applause she gets

Related: Grayling defends paying massively increased Brexit divorce bill, saying UK shouldn't 'just walk away' - Politics live

Continue reading...

Ratko Mladić was unlucky. These days most war criminals go free | Jonathan Freedland

Justice caught up with the butcher of Srebrenica. Tyrants from Syria to Myanmar should meet the same fate

The sight of a judge in The Hague interrupted by insults and obscenities from Ratko Mladić as the court convicted the former general of genocide reached us like the light of a distant star. The jailing of the butcher of Srebrenica happened on Wednesday, but it gave off the glow of a spark lit more than two decades ago. It’s not just that Mladić’s crimes were committed in the mid-1990s. It’s that the very idea of bringing war criminals to justice seems like a memory from the distant past.

The day before Mladić was taken to the cells, Robert Mugabe resigned from the Zimbabwean presidency he had held for 37 years, reportedly in return for keeping shut the files that detailed his culpability over the massacre of 20,000 or more people in Matabeleland in the early 1980s. Even the longtime opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, famously beaten at the hands of Mugabe’s henchmen, said the dictator should not face justice. “To pursue the old man will be a futile exercise,” he told BBC Newsnight. “I think let him go and rest his last days.”

No tyrant has the right to kill with impunity, even if it is within his own borders

Related: Ratko Mladić will die in jail. But go to Bosnia: you’ll see that he won | Ed Vulliamy

Continue reading...

Help for housing or a kick in the teeth for the young? Our writers on the budget | Matthew d’Ancona, Faiza Shaheen, Jonathan Freedland, Polly Toynbee and Frances Ryan

Philip Hammond has held on to his own job, for now. But his budget changes may prove little more than window dressing as Brexit looms

Related: Autumn budget 2017: Hammond scraps stamp duty for first-time buyers for homes worth up to £300,000 - updates

Related: Stamp duty cut for first-time buyers hopes to fix housing market

Related: The real budget story is the sharp cut in growth forecasts | Larry Elliott

Continue reading...

From Peppa Pig to Trump, the web is shaping us. It’s time we fought back | Jonathan Freedland

Social media algorithms have assumed a sinister supremacy, directing us in ways we barely understand. Are we content to let them control our lives?

Forget the canary in the coal mine: these days, the warning comes from a cartoon pig in a dentist’s chair. And it’s no exaggeration to say it’s pointing to a threat facing all humanity.

The pig in question is Peppa, beloved by children everywhere. What could be safer than settling a child in front of a few Peppa Pig videos, served up in succession by YouTube, knowing they’ll be innocently amused while the adults chat among themselves?

Related: Russia-backed Facebook posts 'reached 126m Americans' during US election

Machines are currently answerable to no one. We are slaves to the algorithm

Related: Russian troll factories: researchers damn Twitter's refusal to share data

Continue reading...

Let Robert Mugabe go quietly – punishing him will not help Zimbabwe | Jonathan Freedland

The idea of cushy exile may appal. But history shows that societies in transition may be wise to sacrifice the urge to see their former dictators brought to justice

Of all the questions hanging over the dramatic, uncertain events in Zimbabwe there is one that looms especially large. It is the same question that arises every time, and in every place, a long-established dictatorship is toppled. What to do with the once supreme leader himself?

Whenever a longstanding dictatorship is toppled, the question arises: what to do with the once supreme leader himself?

Related: Robert Mugabe removed as WHO goodwill ambassador after outcry

Continue reading...

Michael Gove and Boris Johnson: how did their friendship come out of the deep freeze?

The politicians fell out after Gove torpedoed Johnson’s Tory leadership bid. Now they are back on good terms – and the reason is Brexit

Not too long ago Michael Gove would describe his once-close relationship with Boris Johnson as being in the “deep freeze.” Such froideur was inevitable, given the way Gove had torpedoed his chum’s bid to replace David Cameron as Tory party leader and prime minister. You’ll recall that fine June day in 2016 when Johnson was poised to launch his campaign for the top job – the room was booked, the acolytes assembled – only to ditch the plan once Gove, his fellow traveller just a few days earlier on the £350m Vote Leave battlebus, announced that he had “come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead”.

Most friendships don’t get over a blow like that. Gove hadn’t stabbed Johnson in the back, Tory MPs agreed: he had stabbed him in the front. With next to no warning, Gove went from manager of the Boris campaign to its destroyer. Ordinarily, an act of betrayal so complete would see all ties severed for ever, the relationship dumped in a shallow grave. Putting it in a “deep freeze” represented an act of leniency.

Continue reading...