Trump wants ‘peace through strength’ – but this budget is a recipe for war | Jonathan Freedland

Diplomacy is the smartest form of military spending, yet the president is slashing soft-power budgets in order to pay for ego-boosting new hardware

Whenever you’d interview Donald Trump supporters during last year’s election campaign, one line would come up more than any other: “He’s a successful businessman,” they’d say, “and it’s about time someone ran the country like a business.”

If those voters were expecting Trump to steer the US government with technocratic efficiency, they will have been disappointed by the performance so far. Of course the president himself insists it’s running like a “fine-tuned machine”, but the resignations, leaks, unfilled posts and overturned executive orders suggest a rather less sleek operation.

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Copeland shows Corbyn must go. But only Labour’s left can remove him | Jonathan Freedland

The party leader’s supporters should ask themselves how long they can allow the Tories, unchallenged, to wreak intolerable damage on the country

Let’s remind ourselves what’s at stake. Unchecked, Theresa May and her government are leading Britain through the narrowest, harshest exit from the European Union, taking the country out of not only the EU but also the single market, and in all probability, the customs union too.

In the process they could well jeopardise a two-decade peace in Northern Ireland and trigger a second Scottish referendum that would unravel the United Kingdom. At the same time, May’s government is presiding over a calamity in the NHS, a crisis in social care, and an eighth year of shrinking budgets for local councils – which means more cuts to already starved libraries, parks and services for the most vulnerable.

Related: Labour ousted by Tories in Copeland byelection but sees off Ukip in Stoke

With an approval rating of minus 40 points, Corbyn lags behind Paul Nuttall, David Davis and Philip Hammond

Related: The Guardian view on the byelection results: a test for Mr Corbyn | Editorial

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This British government is cruel – and the opposition is useless | Jonathan Freedland

Theresa May can shut the door on child refugees and impose a hard Brexit because Jeremy Corbyn has no clue how to stop her

What kind of government breaks a promise to give shelter to 3,000 of the most desperate people on Earth, children fleeing war and devastation? What kind of government sneaks out an announcement that the 3,000 places it had reserved for child refugees will be shrunk to 350 and, after that, the doors to this peaceful and prosperous country will be slammed shut?

The question is not rhetorical. The first answer is: a government that knows it has the press on its side. Theresa May reckoned she could get away with reneging on her pledge to Alf Dubs – himself a child refugee in 1939 – because the papers have switched sides on the issue, taking much of the public with them.

Related: Lord Dubs calls on home secretary to accept more child refugees

Related: British tabloids ignore end of scheme to bring child refugees to the UK

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A warning to world leaders: embracing Trump could be a costly mistake | Jonathan Freedland

Theresa May and Benjamin Netanyahu both need favours from the president, but his volatility and unpredictability mean they may end up disappointed

Think of it as a meeting of the world’s smallest club: the Donald Trump Appreciation Society (world leaders’ branch). Two of its leading lights met today in Downing Street, as Theresa May greeted Benjamin Netanyahu for a round of talks, before the Israeli prime minister flies to Washington to meet the man himself. If May had invited Vladimir Putin to join them, they’d nearly have had the club’s full membership.

Of course, May and Netanyahu approach the US president from very different directions. For the Israeli PM, as for Putin, Trump was his genuine preference in November’s election. He liked Trump’s aggressive stance on Iran, which has long been – and continues to be – Netanyahu’s top strategic priority, if not his personal obsession. He also reckoned Trump would be more indulgent than Hillary Clinton might have been of Israel’s continued settlement activity in the occupied West Bank.

Related: May to meet Netanyahu ahead of Brexit debate in Commons – live updates

Related: Netanyahu’s visit comes amid tensions between UK and EU over Israel

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First on the White House agenda – the collapse of the global order. Next, war? | Jonathan Freedland

Trump’s allies yearn to wreck alliances that have kept the peace for decades. Progressives must preserve them

Donald Trump doesn’t read books. He leaves that to his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, the man rapidly emerging as the true power behind the gaudy Trump throne. Given Bannon’s influence – he is the innermost member of the president’s inner circle and will have a permanent seat on the National Security Council, a privilege Trump has denied the head of the US military – it’s worth taking a good look at the books on his bedside table.

Close to the top of the pile, according to this week’s Time magazine, is a book called The Fourth Turning, which argues that human history moves in 80- to 100-year cycles, each one climaxing in a violent cataclysm that destroys the old order and replaces it with something new. For the US, there have been three such upheavals: the founding revolutionary war that ended in 1783, the civil war of the 1860s and the second world war of the 1940s. According to the book, America is on the brink of another.

Related: EU leaders warily await Donald Trump's choice of ambassador | Patrick Wintour

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Here are the questions Trump’s supreme court pick has to answer | Jonathan Freedland

Which comes first: the rule of law or the whims of the executive? Ultra-conservative judge Neil Gorsuch must be made to say where he stands

Now that Donald Trump has made his pick for the supreme court, Democrats in the US Senate have a whole battery of questions to wrestle with – but there’s one that should loom larger than all the rest.

They will be grappling first with tactical dilemmas. How hard should they fight Trump’s choice of the ultra-conservative judge Neil Gorsuch? Is there a risk that resisting too loudly will push Republicans to change the Senate’s rules – thereby depriving the Democratic minority of their blocking power and leaving them unable to thwart a future, perhaps even more extreme, appointment?

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