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Fears are growing that Ireland could be on its way to an early election. The country is facing a political crisis with opposition parties calling for the head of the deputy prime minister over an escalating policing scandal. The taoiseach, Leo Varadkar (pictured), has declared his support for his number two but doing so risks the collapse of a deal underpinning his minority government.

The crisis comes as Ireland’s leader steps up a difficult diplomatic campaign in Brexit talks. So a leaked confidential report by the Irish government detailing the lack of respect in the EU for the UK’s handling of Brexit will not help the situation. (FT, Guardian)

In the news

A path to Merkel’s fourth term?
The Social Democrats are reconsidering coalition talks with Angela Merkel — after earlier ruling out that option. The shift could mean avoiding new elections. Separately, Philip Stephens laments that Germany has turned inward as well as rightward. (FT)

Eurozone firing on all cylinders
The message from the latest eurozone economic data are clear: business is booming. The region’s businesses enjoyed their best monthly performance in six and half years, while jobs growth and new manufacturing orders reached 17-year highs. The growth is leading to rising inflationary pressures, which will please the European Central Bank. (FT)

New Uber boss knew of hack . . . for months
Dara Khosrowshahi learnt of the 2016 breach two weeks after becoming chief executive of Uber in September, but customers weren’t told of the breach that affected 57m users until this week. (WSJ)

HSBC exec steps down
Matthew Westerman, co-head of HSBC’s global banking division, is stepping down. The Goldman Sachs veteran was hired just 18 months ago to shake up HSBC’s investment banking business. (FT)

Hafiz Saeed released
Pakistani cleric Hafiz Saeed, who is accused by the US and India of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks, has been released from house arrest. Courts rejected the government’s argument that he was a threat to public safety. The Mumbai attack left more than 160 dead. Mr Saeed has denied any involvement. (BBC)

Flynn splits from Trump
Lawyers for Michael Flynn, US President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, are said to have terminated an information-sharing agreement with the president’s legal team. The move indicates that Mr Flynn is co-operating with prosecutors investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. (NYT)

China goes driverless
Has China quietly conducted the first public road tests of fully autonomous cars? Tell-tale white and blue self-driving cars belonging to Baidu, China’s largest search engine, have been spotted on public roads. Baidu declined to comment on what is a legal grey area. (FT)

The day ahead

Zimbabwe’s new leader sworn in
A new era begins for the southern African nation after almost four decades of rule by Robert Mugabe. Emmerson Mnangagwa will remain president until the end of Mr Mugabe’s original term, due to expire by the end of July 2018. That is the latest date by which elections must be held. (FT)

Black Friday
The US’s post-Thanksgiving shopping bonanza begins. Most of the attention will be on where people are shopping — online or in stores. The FT has a series of illuminating charts showing how traditional retailers have fared as Amazon and other internet retailers powered ahead. (FT)

Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s Week Ahead.

What we’re reading

Lies, damned lies and citizenship tests
Britain has rather odd expectations of what you should have learnt about the UK during the five years it takes to qualify to become a citizen. The FT’s Federica Cocco, for instance, was asked to identify a word originating from “the Viking language” as one example. But even she draws the line at the many dubious statistics in the test. (FT)

Christmas catalogues are back
Retailers and shoppers are showing renewed interest in a humble purchasing device that uses paper instead of pixels. Sears, for instance, sent out the Sears Wish Book for the first time since 2011 this year. Why? The ability to stand out in a physical mailbox is easier than it was 10 years ago. (LAT)

Putin’s World Cup dilemma
When Russia began bidding for the 2018 World Cup it was a different country, writes Simon Kuper. With the draw for next summer’s tournament being made next week, Vladimir Putin may be wishing he hadn’t bid. (FT)

Trump and the sexual harassment backlash
What is it about 2017 that has unleashed such a huge cultural reckoning? The FT’s Gillian Tett narrows it down to the internet and Donald Trump. And while some are alarmed the harassment backlash could become a witch hunt, “nobody is going to put this genie back into the bottle any time soon”, she says. (FT)

Requiem for a hit man
In a jailhouse interview with The Wall Street Journal, a doomed hired gun unburdens himself. The interview sheds light on the emerging shadow battle between Russia and Ukraine, fought largely by spies and hit men. (WSJ)

Video of the day

How to be charismatic
Emma Jacobs visits a charisma coach to see if anyone can learn to be charismatic. (FT)

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