Observer lives to fight another day

Paper will continue to be published but at what cost?

As I anticipated on Wednesday, Guardian News & Media confirmed a few minutes ago that it would continue to publish the Observer -- ending weeks of speculation over the title's future. But the paper's staff will immediately ask: "At what cost?"

The Guardian announcement promises "further editorial integration" between the two titles, something that could spell the end of the Observer's popular monthly supplements and its stand-alone business section. The title's journalists are unlikely to be content with a vastly slimmed-down version of the paper that leaves it unable to compete with its Sunday rivals.

Guardian Media Group (GMG) had considered closing the Observer in an attempt to stem losses that stood at nearly £90m this year.

For now the title's future is safe, but unless the Guardian finds a way to monetise its vast online presence the proposal is likely to be revisited.

The Scott Trust, which owns GMG, is mandated to "to secure the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity" but that duty does not extend to the Observer.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Cabinet audit: what does the appointment of Liam Fox as International Trade Secretary mean for policy?

The political and policy-based implications of the new Secretary of State for International Trade.

Only Nixon, it is said, could have gone to China. Only a politician with the impeccable Commie-bashing credentials of the 37th President had the political capital necessary to strike a deal with the People’s Republic of China.

Theresa May’s great hope is that only Liam Fox, the newly-installed Secretary of State for International Trade, has the Euro-bashing credentials to break the news to the Brexiteers that a deal between a post-Leave United Kingdom and China might be somewhat harder to negotiate than Vote Leave suggested.

The biggest item on the agenda: striking a deal that allows Britain to stay in the single market. Elsewhere, Fox should use his political capital with the Conservative right to wait longer to sign deals than a Remainer would have to, to avoid the United Kingdom being caught in a series of bad deals. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.