West End Final newsletter: Dude, where’s my trade deal?

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 (West End Final)
(West End Final)

It was all smiles between Boris Johnson and Joe Biden, but there was little in the way of progress on that most sunlit of Brexit uplands, a US-UK trade deal.

For a giddy few hours, it then appeared the Government was exploring joining USMCA, the trade deal between the US, Mexico and Canada.

This would have involved many of the problems of a bilateral agreement with America with some new ones for good measure. For example, USMCA does not have an accession provision, and it is largely focussed on goods, suboptimal when services represent roughly 80 per cent of our economy.

The idea was subsequently shot down by the PM’s spokesperson, so that’s that then. Which is just as well, given that Mexico and Canada would presumably have taken a view too.

It is almost as if this was largely trade deal theatre, as the UK looks to join trade blocs around the world while ignoring the rather successful single market on our doorstep that one-time pro-European Margaret Thatcher did so much to create.

In the capital, the developing story is the murder of primary school teacher Sabina Nessa, 28. Her body was discovered by a member of the public after she had been walking through Cator Park in south London. Officers fear she may have been attacked by a stranger who remains on the loose.

It once again brings to the fore violence against women and comes days after a police watchdog said preventing violence against women and girls should be considered as much of a priority as counter-terrorism, while citing major worries with how police deal with the “epidemic”.

In the comment pages, Ayesha Hazarika cringes over British prime ministers always acting like a competition winner when they meet a US president. Meanwhile, ahead of Labour Party conference, Tom Newton Dunn has some advice for Keir Starmer on how to reboot his leadership.

And finally, is the Marble Arch Mound good now? Ignore the doubters and haters [me], the much-pilloried hillock has achieved cult status after a spectacular light insulation opened in its hollow interior.

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