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All aboard: Now that Labour has decided to support a referendum on Europe, the 'pro' camp needs to get its act together

As well she might, Labour’s acting leader, Harriet Harman, looked a bit sheepish on The Andrew Marr Show as she executed her U-turn on the Europe referendum. After all, as a loyal deputy to Ed Miliband, she has spent the past few months wandering around the country in a pink van telling us it would be a disaster. Her reason for this change of policy was that Labour wouldn’t be able to stop the Conservatives getting the legislation through Parliament anyway. Unspoken subtext: “So why bother?” That does not bode well for the spirited, principled opposition the country expects from Ms Harman’s party. She and Mr Miliband argued that a referendum would create uncertainty and damage private investment, and so it will.

Wake up, Premier League: Bring on end-of-season play-offs to decide the title-winner

The Premier League season has finally staggered to a close, the inevitability of Chelsea winning the title becoming obvious when there was still a long way to go. That only the richest clubs can compete for the top spot is a long-established reality which it’s impossible to see changing, and you don’t have to be a neutral observer to have found the unfolding non-drama of the past few months less than thrilling.

What works is adoption

Finding children a permanent home could be an achievement of Cameron's second term

The Prime Minister knows his measures to curb immigration will be ineffective, but cannot say so

It was the creators of the 1980s political comedy Yes, Minister who invented the “politician’s syllogism”. It is a way of thinking which runs: “We must do something. This is something. Therefore we must do this.”

Ireland's vote on gay marriage offers the possibility of renewal

Critics, including many of Ireland’s own leaders, find the Irish system of constitutional referenda on virtually any topic irksome, not least because the Irish people sometimes deliver the “wrong” verdict.

Free speech upheld: A robust judgment in favour of a memoir's publication

The Supreme Court ruling to allow publication of an autobiography by the pianist James Rhodes is an important fillip to freedom of expression at a time when the principle seems regularly threatened.

Next May would be the best time for the EU referendum, but speed is essential in launching the Yes campaign

Like nature, financial markets and international investors abhor a vacuum. After the Conservatives’ modest victory on 7 May, there is now a huge vacuum where there used to be the assumption that Britain was a member of the EU: no small matter. That unstable situation will remain, and continue to do damage, for as long as it takes to complete the long-awaited “in-out” referendum.

The fall of Ramadi to Isis underlines the catastrophic failure of US policy in Iraq and the entire region

Forget the Pentagon’s assertion that the fall of Ramadi, barely 70 miles from Baghdad and capital of Anbar province, the country’s Sunni heartland, was a mere blip in the course of the war against Isis. The operation was the militant Islamic group’s biggest victory in a year and has dispelled the notion, fondly put about by some, that Isis is on the run. It has also dispelled any illusion that the official Iraqi army is a fighting force capable of defending its country. What victories have been achieved against Isis have been mainly thanks to Shia militias, backed by Iran, and the Kurdish Peshmerga. The recapture of Mosul, the largest Iraqi city held by Isis, looks further away than ever.

To see or not to see: New claim made for an authentic portrait of Shakespeare

“There’s no art,” King Duncan says early in the Scottish play, “to find the mind’s construction in the face.” Macbeth will prove his point by murdering him. Shakespeare’s warning words, though, are lost on the zealots and cranks who – along with genuine scholars – have scoured the archives to discover what the playwright really looked like.

A Budget for One Nation?

We want to believe there was little that the Lib Dems forced David Cameron to do that he did not want to do anyway

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