This week at the NS

A round-up of some of the highlights from this week's New Statesman plus some of the things we're up

We launch our brand new columnist Martin Jacques - the former editor of that legendary publication Marxism Today. Don't miss his fascinating essay on the financial collapse - and you can learn more about him online through our Q&A.

Elsewhere in the magazine, you can read James Macintyre on Ed Balls - the schools secretary needs to become more of a team player.

John Cornwell profiles Pope Benedict XVI and Sholto Byrnes ponders the role of smart power.

Look out too for Annalisa Barbieri on being nine months pregnant. And Sorrel Neuss writes us a letter from Kyrgzstan.

In Arts&Culture Ryan Gilbey offers a modest proposal for reinventing the Oscars. And in Books there's Hermione Eyre on Lucky Kunst: the rise and fall of young British art by Gregor Muir.

On newstatesman.com, our economics coverage continues with John McFall whose Treasury select committee last week heard apologies from some of Britain's leading bankers. The MP gives his take on bankers' bonuses.

Talking of which, we'll be hearing the inside track on the dark world of capitalist remuneration from a City worker. Put it this way, reward has got more to do with politics than commercial success.

Oh and check out Vincent Bevins on Sunday's victory for Hugo Chávez in a referendum result that removed a cap on how many terms he can serve as president of Venezuela.

Ben Davies trained as a journalist after taking most of the 1990s off. Prior to joining the New Statesman he spent five years working as a politics reporter for the BBC News website. He lives in North London.
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PMQs review: Theresa May shows how her confidence has grown

After her Brexit speech, the PM declared of Jeremy Corbyn: "I've got a plan - he doesn't have a clue". 

The woman derided as “Theresa Maybe” believes she has neutralised that charge. Following her Brexit speech, Theresa May cut a far more confident figure at today's PMQs. Jeremy Corbyn inevitably devoted all six of his questions to Europe but failed to land a definitive blow.

He began by denouncing May for “sidelining parliament” at the very moment the UK was supposedly reclaiming sovereignty (though he yesterday praised her for guaranteeing MPs would get a vote). “It’s not so much the Iron Lady as the irony lady,” he quipped. But May, who has sometimes faltered against Corbyn, had a ready retort. The Labour leader, she noted, had denounced the government for planning to leave the single market while simultaneously seeking “access” to it. Yet “access”, she went on, was precisely what Corbyn had demanded (seemingly having confused it with full membership). "I've got a plan - he doesn't have a clue,” she declared.

When Corbyn recalled May’s economic warnings during the referendum (“Does she now disagree with herself?”), the PM was able to reply: “I said if we voted to leave the EU the sky would not fall in and look at what has happened to our economic situation since we voted to leave the EU”.

Corbyn’s subsequent question on whether May would pay for single market access was less wounding than it might have been because she has consistently refused to rule out budget contributions (though yesterday emphasised that the days of “vast” payments were over).

When the Labour leader ended by rightly hailing the contribution immigrants made to public services (“The real pressure on public services comes from a government that slashed billions”), May took full opportunity of the chance to have the last word, launching a full-frontal attack on his leadership and a defence of hers. “There is indeed a difference - when I look at the issue of Brexit or any other issues like the NHS or social care, I consider the issue, I set out my plan and I stick to it. It's called leadership, he should try it some time.”

For May, life will soon get harder. Once Article 50 is triggered, it is the EU 27, not the UK, that will take back control (the withdrawal agreement must be approved by at least 72 per cent of member states). With MPs now guaranteed a vote on the final outcome, parliament will also reassert itself. But for now, May can reflect with satisfaction on her strengthened position.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.