Tom Goodenough

What the papers say: It’s time to stop blaming Brexit

What the papers say: It's time to stop blaming Brexit
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What does a spike in hate crime, a slump in sterling, supermarket price hikes, rising inflation and a squeeze on living standards have in common? The answer is simple, according to some: Brexit is to blame. But it’s time to stop pointing the finger at Brexit, says the Sun, which argues in its editorial that the vote to leave in last year’s referendum has ‘wrongly copped the blame for every negative development since’. Now that it has emerged that inflation has ‘outstripped’ pay for the first time since 2014, the same thing is happening. It’s true, the Sun admits, that the slump in Sterling is pushing up prices. But there’s also another reason for low wages: ‘the huge number of EU migrants prepared to work for less than Brits.’. No one can blame these people for ‘coming to Britain to improve their lot’. Yet when as many as  250,000 eastern Europeans work in manufacturing alone, one thing is inevitable, the Sun says: national pay growth will be cut. It’s time for firms to ‘wean themselves off cheap labour’.

During her first few months in office, Theresa May did a ‘a persuasive impression of a life-long Leaver’, says the FT, which argues that such was the extent of her apparent conversion that ‘at times she seemed to prefer total, sudden withdrawal to a disadvantageous deal'. But now, the PM’s tone is softening. And the FT is pleased. ‘Jingoistic dreams of a 'red, white and blue' exit’, have been swapped for a dollop of realism and ‘diplomatic talk of a “deep and special partnership” with the EU’. It seems, says the paper, that May’s ‘final position has been more moderate than her initial instincts’ suggested’ - pointing to her plans for a transition deal, even if it means continued free movement. This shows that the PM ‘does a lot of listening’, says the FT. And all of this shows there is a more ‘constructive’ side to the Government. But Mrs May must not rest on her laurels. Instead, it’s vital that she builds ‘on her gestures of late’. ‘Guaranteeing the rights of European residents in Britain,’ would be a big step towards doing so, the paper argues.

If Theresa May has undergone a shift on Brexit, there’s no doubt that the Donald has undergone a similar change in thinking while he has been in office. After criticising Nato, Trump has said the organisation is no longer obsolete. Yet if blurred thinking marks a change from Trump’s predecessor in the Oval Office, so too does his willingness to act. The Times says that ‘compared with his predecessor, Mr Trump is taking a high-speed, high-risk approach to North Korea’. Yet for all the speed, his ‘rationale is clear’: it was obvious, the paper argues, that Obama’s approach had failed. ‘And partly as a consequence Kim Jong-un’s nuclear weapons programme could soon threaten the continental United States’. By making a bold move in bombing Syria when Assad strayed again across Obama’s red line, however, Trump appears to have convinced China’s President Xi that he is willing to act. For China, ‘a similar military clash on the Korean peninsula’ would be the nightmare scenario; and as a result of Trump’s decisiveness, ‘Beijing appears to have decided to be helpful’. This, the Times argues, ‘is progress’.

Given Trump’s unexpected decision to launch military strikes against a Syrian Government airbase, it’s time to prepare for the ‘unexpected’ in North Korea as well, says the Daily Telegraph. The President has vowed to solve the ‘problem’ of North Korea, with or without the help of China. For all of Trump’s 140-character fighting talk, though, it would be wrong for the US to go it alone, says the Telegraph. ‘Pyongyang’s very irrationality makes it essential that America does not act unilaterally,’ the paper argues. We should be braced for a ‘flashpoint’ as soon as this coming weekend, which marks the ‘birthday of the state’s founder Kim Il-sung. If that does happen, ‘China and America must respond in concert,’ the Telegraph concludes.