Laurie Penny rejoins the New Statesman

The columnist returns.

Laurie Penny is rejoining the New Statesman in the new position of contributing editor.

From the beginning of November, she will write a column for the magazine and a weekly blog for NewStatesman.com.  

Laurie Penny said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to work with the Independent over the past nine months, but I am delighted to be rejoining the New Statesman as Contributing Editor. The decision to leave the Independent was a difficult one but this new role offers me a chance to move my writing in a new direction. I am extremely excited to be back at my old stable.”

Jason Cowley, the New Statesman's editor, said: “I’m delighted Laurie is coming back to the NS. She is one of the outstanding talents of her generation and I’ve missed her voice. She will write a column for the magazine and a weekly blog.”

For more details, please contact Charlotte Simmonds on charlotte.simmonds@newstatesman.co.uk  

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The Brexit elite want to make trade great again – but there’s a catch

The most likely trade partners will want something in return. And it could be awkward. 

Make trade great again! That's an often overlooked priority of Britain's Brexit elite, who believe that by freeing the United Kingdom from the desiccated hand of the European bureaucracy they can strike trade deals with the rest of the world.

That's why Liam Fox, the Trade Secretary, is feeling particularly proud of himself this morning, and has written an article for the Telegraph about all the deals that he is doing the preparatory work for. "Britain embarks on trade crusade" is that paper's splash.

The informal talks involve Norway, New Zealand, and the Gulf Cooperation Council, a political and economic alliance of Middle Eastern countries, including Kuwait, the UAE and our friends the Saudis.

Elsewhere, much symbolic importance has been added to a quick deal with the United States, with Theresa May saying that we were "front of the queue" with President-Elect Donald Trump in her speech this week. 

As far as Trump is concerned, the incoming administration seems to see it differently: Wilbur Ross, his Commerce Secretary, yesterday told Congress that the first priority is to re-negotiate the Nafta deal with their nearest neighbours, Canada and Mexico.

In terms of judging whether or not Brexit is a success or not, let's be clear: if the metric for success is striking a trade deal with a Trump administration that believes that every trade deal the United States has struck has been too good on the other party to the deal, Brexit will be a failure.

There is much more potential for a genuine post-Brexit deal with the other nations of the English-speaking world. But there's something to watch here, too: there is plenty of scope for trade deals with the emerging powers in the Brics - Brazil, India, etc. etc.

But what there isn't is scope for a deal that won't involve the handing out of many more visas to those countries, particularly India, than we do currently.

Downing Street sees the success of Brexit on hinging on trade and immigration. But political success on the latter may hobble any hope of making a decent go of the former. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.