US Press: pick of the papers

The ten must-read opinion pieces from today's US papers

1. The Lost Decade? (New York Times)

Insular thinking and rigid ideas are holding the United States back from productive engagement with its most important problems, says David Brooks.

2. Immigration rhetoric ignores trends (USA Today)

The crackdown on illegal immigration is disconnected from reality and already producing unintended consequences, argues this editorial.

3. Republicans playing politics with disaster relief (St. Petersburg Times)

Providing fellow citizens with a safe place to sleep, clean water and other basics should not be held hostage to a political circus, says this editorial.

4. A bear of a problem for Obama (Los Angeles Times)

Obama has angered America's silent majority, says Jonah Goldberg, and his base is not happy with him either.

5. Even the Muppets know America needs science (Chicago Sun Times)

With Bachmann's latest comments on medical vaccines, Sesame Street's science agenda couldn't come at a better time, says this editorial.

6. Why Christie should run for President (Washington Post)

Rick Perry's recent stumbles have re-started speculation that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie might re-think his "no-go" decision. Chris Cillizza lists the three reasons for him -- and three against.

7. Everyone's a Little Bit Racist (Wall Street Journal)

Even the first black president, says James Taranto -- to hear Maxine Waters tell it.

8. The genius of Vladimir Putin (Washington Post)

He is a great czar, if not a great man, argues Ralph Peters.

9. The Chris Christie infatuation (Washington Times)

Fundraising tour stokes hope that N.J. governor will run for president, writes Emily Miller.

10. Rick Perry is making me swoon (New York Daily News)

Richard Cohen explains why he can't help liking the "big Texas lug".

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Emmanuel Macron offers Theresa May no comfort on Brexit

The French presidential candidate warned that he would not accept "any caveat or any waiver" at a press briefing in London.

Emmanuel Macron, the new wunderkind of French politics, has brought his presidential campaign to London. The current favourite to succeed François Hollande has a natural electoral incentive to do so. London is home to 300,000 French voters, making it by France's sixth largest city by one count (Macron will address 3,000 people at a Westminster rally tonight). But the telegenic centrist also took the time to meet Theresa May and Philip Hammond and to hold a press briefing.

If May hoped that her invitation would help soften Macron's Brexit stance (the Prime Minister has refused to engage with his rival Marine Le Pen), she will have been left disappointed. Outside No.10, Macron declared that he hoped to attract "banks, talents, researchers, academics" away from the UK to France (a remark reminiscent of David Cameron's vow to "roll out the red carpet" for those fleeing Hollande). 

At the briefing at Westminster's Central Hall, Macron quipped: "The best trade agreement for Britain ... is called membership of the EU". With May determined to deliver Brexit, he suggested that the UK would have to settle for a Canadian-style deal, an outcome that would radically reduce the UK's market access. Macron emphasised that he took a a "classical, orthodox" view of the EU, regarding the "four freedoms" (of people, capital, goods and services) as indivisible. Were Britain to seek continued financial passporting, the former banker said, it would have to make a significant budget "contribution" and accept continued immigration. "The execution of Brexit has to be compliant with our interests and the European interest".

The 39-year-old avoided a nationalistic tone ("my perspective is not to say France, France, France") in favour of a "coordinated European approach" but was unambiguous: "I don't want to accept any caveat or any waiver to what makes the single market and the EU." Were the UK, as expected, to seek a transitional arrangement, it would have to accept the continued jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

Elsewhere, Macron insisted that his liberal economic stance was not an obstacle to his election. It would be fitting, he said, if the traditionally "contrarian" France embraced globalisation just as its counterparts were rejecting it. "In the current environment, if you're shy, you're dead," he declared. With his emotional, straight-talking approach (one derided by some as intellectually threadbare), Macron is seeking to beat the populists at their own game.

But his views on Brexit may yet prove academic. A poll published today showed him trailing centre-right candidate François Fillon (by 20-17) having fallen five points since his denunciation of French colonialism. Macron's novelty is both a strength and a weakness. With no established base (he founded his own party En Marche!), he is vulnerable to small swings in the public mood. If Macron does lose, it will not be for want of confidence. But there are unmistakable signs that his forward march has been halted. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.