Can Brooks really hang on?

The News International chief executive is either guilty of incompetence or something far worse.

Despite clear evidence that Milly Dowler's phone was hacked during Rebekah Brooks's tenure as News of the World editor, Brooks is sticking to the line that she knew nothing. Former NoW reporter Paul McMullan had previously admitted to Hugh Grant in April that the phones of Dowler's "friends and family" had been hacked.

Here's the key extract from Grant's NS investigation:

Me Ah . . . I think that was one of the questions asked last week at one of the parliamentary committees. They asked Yates [John Yates, acting deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police] if it was true that he thought that the NoW had been hacking the phones of friends and family of those girls who were murdered . . . the Soham murder and the Milly girl [Milly Dowler].
Him Yeah. Yeah. It's more than likely. Yeah . . . It was quite routine. Yeah - friends and family is something that's not as easy to justify as the other things.

But even by the standards of the NoW, the news that Dowler's own phone was hacked represents a new low.

The BBC's Robert Peston reports that Brooks, who is now chief executive of News International, has no intention of resigning and retains the full support of Rupert Murdoch. He writes: "Later today she is expected to tell staff at News International, the UK arm of Mr Murdoch's News Corporation, that she is deeply shocked by the allegations, which News International has been working through the night to substantiate. However she insists that she was not involved in that instance of alleged phone hacking, or others, and knew nothing about it."

The NoW hackers didn't even conceal their activities from Surrey Police (who chose not to pursue the tabloid on the grounds that this was only "one example of tabloid misbehaviour"), is it really feasible that they managed to conceal their activities from their own editor? Like Andy Coulson, if Brooks did know, she's too wicked to stay in her post, if she didn't know, she's too stupid.

Brooks has so far avoided the level of scrutiny that she deserves. She refused three times to give evidence to the Commons select committee investigating the phone hacking allegations. But the latest revelations mean that far more people, not least the tabloid's own readers, will be demanding an explanation.

Finally, it's worth recalling that Coulson resigned (twice) because hacking occurred under his watch. Surely, Brooks will eventually be forced to do the same and accept ultimate responsibility for the scandal.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Here's something the political class has completely missed about Brexit

As Hillary Clinton could tell them, arguments about trade have a long, long afterlife. 

I frequently hear the same thing at Westminster, regardless of whether or not the person in question voted to leave the European Union or not: that, after March 2019, Brexit will be “over”.

It’s true that on 30 March 2019, the United Kingdom will leave the EU whether the government has reached a deal with the EU27 on its future relationship or not. But as a political issue, Brexit will never be over, regardless of whether it is seen as a success or a failure.

You don’t need to have a crystal ball to know this, you just need to have read a history book, or, failing that, paid any attention to current affairs. The Democratic primaries and presidential election of 2016 hinged, at least in part, on the consequences of the North American Free Trade Association (Nafta). Hillary Clinton defeated a primary opponent, Bernie Sanders, who opposed the deal, and lost to Donald Trump, who also opposed the measure.

Negotiations on Nafta began in 1990 and the agreement was fully ratified by 1993. Economists generally agree that it has, overall, benefited the nations that participate in it. Yet it was still contentious enough to move at least some votes in a presidential election 26 years later.

Even if Brexit turns out to be a tremendous success, which feels like a bold call at this point, not everyone will experience it as one. (A good example of this is the collapse in the value of the pound after Britain’s Leave vote. It has been great news for manufacturers, domestic tourist destinations and businesses who sell to the European Union. It has been bad news for domestic households and businesses who buy from the European Union.)

Bluntly, even a successful Brexit is going to create some losers and an unsuccessful one will create many more. The arguments over it, and the political fissure it creates, will not end on 30 March 2019 or anything like it. 

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