Opinionomics | 23 April 2012

Must-read comment and analysis. Featuring the entrepreneurial state, the austere state, and the Unit

1. IMF encourages Europe's economic suicide (Telegraph)

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard argues that the IMF’s pledge to increase its rescue fund to $1 trillion encourages EMU and German elites to believe wrongly that the essence of this crisis is a speculative attack on the euro.

2. Without state spending there'd be no Google or GlaxoSmithKline (Guardian)

Mariana Mazzucato argues for the "entrepreneurial state"

3. Austerity is no answer (Times)

Sam Fleming writes that western policymakers are, in the words of Andrés Velasco, Chile’s charismatic former finance minster, “screwing up”.

4. Crisis, what crisis? (Stumbling and Mumbling)

Chris Dillow points out that this crisis is worse than in the 1970s, but there is less of the accompanying sense of despair. He asks why this might be.

5. The Amnesia Candidate (New York Times)

"Just how stupid does Mitt Romney think we are?", asks Paul Krugman.

The shadow of French presidential front-runner François Hollande, who has spooked markets with anti-finance rhetoric. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Photo: Getty
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Theresa May is paying the price for mismanaging Boris Johnson

The Foreign Secretary's bruised ego may end up destroying Theresa May. 

And to think that Theresa May scheduled her big speech for this Friday to make sure that Conservative party conference wouldn’t be dominated by the matter of Brexit. Now, thanks to Boris Johnson, it won’t just be her conference, but Labour’s, which is overshadowed by Brexit in general and Tory in-fighting in particular. (One imagines that the Labour leadership will find a way to cope somehow.)

May is paying the price for mismanaging Johnson during her period of political hegemony after she became leader. After he was betrayed by Michael Gove and lacking any particular faction in the parliamentary party, she brought him back from the brink of political death by making him Foreign Secretary, but also used her strength and his weakness to shrink his empire.

The Foreign Office had its responsibility for negotiating Brexit hived off to the newly-created Department for Exiting the European Union (Dexeu) and for navigating post-Brexit trade deals to the Department of International Trade. Johnson was given control of one of the great offices of state, but with no responsibility at all for the greatest foreign policy challenge since the Second World War.

Adding to his discomfort, the new Foreign Secretary was regularly the subject of jokes from the Prime Minister and cabinet colleagues. May likened him to a dog that had to be put down. Philip Hammond quipped about him during his joke-fuelled 2017 Budget. All of which gave Johnson’s allies the impression that Johnson-hunting was a licensed sport as far as Downing Street was concerned. He was then shut out of the election campaign and has continued to be a marginalised figure even as the disappointing election result forced May to involve the wider cabinet in policymaking.

His sense of exclusion from the discussions around May’s Florence speech only added to his sense of isolation. May forgot that if you aren’t going to kill, don’t wound: now, thanks to her lost majority, she can’t afford to put any of the Brexiteers out in the cold, and Johnson is once again where he wants to be: centre-stage. 

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.