Today's comment: Left and right unite against Speaker Martin

Speaker Martin is being lined up as the sacrificial lamb of the expenses scandal and today he achieves the rare feat of uniting the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph. Both papers use their leader column to declare that Martin must resign.

The Guardian lambasts the Speaker for consistently standing in the way of expenses reforms and failing to hold MPs to account. “Time and again Martin has pulled down the shutters, exploiting sweeping powers under the Freedom of Information Act,” it says.

And the paper argues that his authority has been fatally undermined by his abrasive criticism of those MPs who questioned the decision to involve the police over the expenses leaks.

“Patience finally snapped on Monday, when the Speaker effectively surrendered his role as an impartial chair and rounded on two MPs for having the audacity to wash Commons linen in public,” it notes.

But the leader warns those MPs tempted to add their signatures to Tory MP Douglas Carswell’s motion of no confidence that: “The mutiny is a high-stakes game; if it fails, the Speaker can ruin the rebels' careers by refusing to call them in debate.”

The Telegraph similarly argues that Martin’s departure is a necessary preliminary to any meaningful reform.

“He has presided over – and taken plentiful advantage of – this rotten system and his position is quite untenable,” the paper argues.

But elsewhere the debate moves on to the fortunate few who have come out of the expenses furore stronger.

The Telegraph’s chief political commentator Benedict Brogan argues that the crisis has shown the mettle of David Cameron.

“In what he has said and done, the Conservative leader has not only demonstrated his knack for staying ahead of the public debate and thereby shaping it; he has displayed the courage and conviction a leader must possess if he is to confront adversity,” he writes.

Meanwhile, Vince Cable,yesterday touted as a future Speaker by the Guardian’s Michael White, looks set to retain his title of Britain’s favourite politician through the expenses row.

The Sun’s Kelvin Mackenzie praises Cable for being the only outer London MP not to claim for a second home. Like Polly Tonybee earlier this week, he also believes that the genial and, crucially, thrifty Alan Johnson may yet prove to be Labour’s saviour.

Mackenzie describes him as “the only guy in the Labour party who might reduce the Tory majority at the next General Election by half.”

Finally, in the Guardian, Seumas Milne warns that the scandal “may have brought the British political class to a new nadir, but it's the country that will pay the price.”

He argues that the disproportionate reaction to the expenses scandal masks far more serious and corrosive issues, such as the £7bn paid out in bankers’ bonuses this year.

“It might be objected that these are private institutions … But, of course, several of the banks involved are now nothing of the sort and the others have been kept afloat since last autumn on a sea of public cash. Yet the bankers are now off the hook,” he notes.

And while figures across the political spectrum have praised the Telegraph’s robust reporting, Milne scents a whiff of hypocrisy in the coverage.

“The blizzard of petty corruption revelations, orchestrated by a newspaper whose owners live in tax exile in the Channel Islands, has got out of hand,” he writes.

He fears that the cynical, anti-politics mood will once again be exploited by the demagogic right but hopes that the humiliation of the political establishment will also provide the space for left-wing alternatives to develop.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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We still have time to change our minds on Brexit

The British people will soon find they have been misled. 

On the radio on 29 March 2017, another "independence day" for rejoicing Brexiteers, former SNP leader Alex Salmond and former Ukip leader Nigel Farage battled hard over the ramifications of Brexit. Here are two people who could be responsible for the break-up of the United Kingdom. Farage said it was a day we were getting our country back.

Yet let alone getting our country back, we could be losing our country. And what is so frustrating is that not only have we always had our country by being part of the European Union, but we have had the best of both worlds.

It is Philip Hammond who said: “We cannot cherry pick, we cannot have our cake and eat it too”. The irony is that we have had our cake and eaten it, too.

We are not in Schengen, we are not in the euro and we make the laws that affect our daily lives in Westminster – not in Europe – be it our taxes, be it our planning laws, be it business rates, be it tax credits, be it benefits or welfare, be it healthcare. We measure our roads in miles because we choose to and we pour our beer in pints because we choose to. We have not been part of any move towards further integration and an EU super-state, let alone the EU army.

Since the formation of the EU, Britain has had the highest cumulative GDP growth of any country in the EU – 62 per cent, compared with Germany at 35 per cent. We have done well out of being part of the EU. What we have embarked on in the form of Brexit is utter folly.

The triggering of Article 50 now is a self-imposed deadline by the Prime Minister for purely political reasons. She wants to fix the two-year process to end by March 2019 well in time to go into the election in 2020, with the negotiations completed.

There is nothing more or less to this timing. People need to wake up to this. Why else would she trigger Article 50 before the French and German elections, when we know Europe’s attention will be elsewhere?

We are going to waste six months of those two years, all because Prime Minister Theresa May hopes the negotiations are complete before her term comes to an end. I can guarantee that the British people will soon become aware of this plot. The Emperor has no clothes.

Reading through the letter that has been delivered to the EU and listening to the Prime Minister’s statement in Parliament today amounted to reading and listening to pure platitudes and, quite frankly, hot air. It recalls the meaningless phrase, "Brexit means Brexit".

What the letter and the statement very clearly outlined is how complex the negotiations are going to be over the next two years. In fact, they admit that it is unlikely that they are going to be able to conclude negotiations within the two-year period set aside.

That is not the only way in which the British people have been misled. The Conservative party manifesto clearly stated that staying in the single market was a priority. Now the Prime Minister has very clearly stated in her Lancaster House speech, and in Parliament on 29 March that we are not going to be staying in the single market.

Had the British people been told this by the Leave campaign, I can guarantee many people would not have voted to leave.

Had British businesses been consulted, British businesses unanimously – small, medium and large – would have said they appreciate and benefit from the single market, the free movement of goods and services, the movement of people, the three million people from the EU that work in the UK, who we need. We have an unemployment rate of under 5 per cent – what would we do without these 3m people?

Furthermore, this country is one of the leaders in the world in financial services, which benefits from being able to operate freely in the European Union and our businesses benefit from that as a result. We benefit from exporting, tariff-free, to every EU country. That is now in jeopardy as well.

The Prime Minister’s letter to the EU talks with bravado about our demands for a fair negotiation, when we in Britain are in the very weakest position to negotiate. We are just one country up against 27 countries, the European Commission and the European Council and the European Parliament. India, the US and the rest of the world do not want us to leave the European Union.

The Prime Minister’s letter of notice already talks of transitional deals beyond the two years. No country, no business and no economy likes uncertainty for such a prolonged period. This letter not just prolongs but accentuates the uncertainty that the UK is going to face in the coming years.

Britain is one of the three largest recipients of inward investment in the world and our economy depends on inward investment. Since the referendum, the pound has fallen 20 per cent. That is a clear signal from the world, saying, "We do not like this uncertainty and we do not like Brexit."

Though the Prime Minister said there is it no turning back, if we come to our senses we will not leave the EU. Article 50 is revocable. At any time from today we can decide we want to stay on.

That is for the benefit of the British economy, for keeping the United Kingdom "United", and for Europe as a whole – let alone the global economy.

Lord Bilimoria is the founder and chairman of Cobra Beer, Chancellor of the University of Birmingham and the founding Chairman of the UK-India Business Council.