Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read blogs from today on Andrew Marr, Phil Woolas and the mid-terms.

1. Andrew Marr criticises bloggers. Is it 2005 again?

The Telegraph's Shane Richmond says that Andrew Marr's attack on bloggers shows how out of touch he is.

2. Why Phil Woolas is unfit to be on the Labour frontbench

Liberal Conspiracy's Sunny Hundal says that Phil Woolas's attempt to conflate immigration with extremism means he has no place on Labour's frontbench.

3. Housing benefit changes even more unfair than child benefit cuts

Over at Left Foot Forward, Pete Challis warns that the coalition's universal benefits cap takes no account of housing costs, family size or council tax.

4. Nick Clegg averted the axe from over-16s' child benefit

At Liberal Democrat Voice, Helen Duffett says that Nick Clegg prevented the abolition of child benefit for 16-18 year olds.

5. Incumbents Polling Below 50% Often Win Re-Election, Despite Conventional Wisdom

FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver explains why candidates who are below the magic number of 50 per cent shouldn't lose all hope.

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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.