Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read blogs from today, including why Hollande won last night's debate.

1. Brutal debate should seal victory for Francois Hollande

Despite some brutal exchanges, Sarkozy failed to produce a killer blow, says the Telegraph's Benedict Brogan.

2. Conservatives across the north are down but not necessarily out

Cameron's party has a terrible image up here, but there is surprisingly wide agreement with its policies, writes Ed Jacobs at the Guardian.

3. The contests that really matter today

The most important contests today are the mayoral referendums in 11 of Britain’s biggest cities, says James Forsyth at Coffee House.

4. Now Opinium makes it 5 pollsters out of 5 for Boris

All of the pollsters are indicating a clear win for Boris, notes Mike Smithson at Political Betting.

5. Fight! Tom Watson and Louise Mensch at daggers over Murdoch report

Political Scrapbook monitors the fallout from the select committee’s report into phone-hacking.

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The Brexit deal and all the other things Liam Fox finds “easiest in human history”

The international trade secretary is an experienced man. 

On the day of a report warning a no deal Brexit could result in prices rises, blocked ports and legal chaos, international trade secretary Liam Fox emerged to reassure the nation. 

He told BBC Radio 4: "If you think about it, the free trade agreement that we will have to come to with the European Union should be one of the easiest in human history.” 

Since his colleague, Brexit secretary David Davis, described Brexit negotiations as more complicated than the moon landings, this suggests we are truly lucky in the calibre of our top negotiating team. 

Just for clarification, here is the full Davis-Fox definition of easy:

Super easy: Tudor divorce

All Henry VIII had to do was break away from the Catholic Church, kickstart the Reformation, fuel religious wars in Europe, and he was married to his second wife. And his third, fourth, fifth and sixth. Plus the Henry VIII clauses are really handy for bypassing parliament in 2017.

Easy: Tea Act 1773

American colonialists were buying smuggled tea, when they could have bought East India tea instead. Luckily, the British Prime Minister Lord North, found a way to deal with the problem in a single bill. Sorted.

Bit tricky: Appeasement

So what if Neville Chamberlain had never been on an airplane before? It's hardly a moon landing. And he got peace in our time. Although he was forced to resign in 1940. Not quite as easy as he thought. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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