Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. On fracking and wind we are having the wrong debates (Guardian)

Discussion of climate change and the wider public interest has been jettisoned in the rush to lobby against alternatives, says Zoe Williams.

2. The heat is on. We need decisions on energy (Times) (£)

Britain must urgently replace its generating capacity, says John Cridland. But ministers are sitting on their hands.

3. The right-wing agitators out to get David Cameron (Daily Telegraph)

The Prime Minister is besieged by Conservative critics oblivious to the man on the street, says Peter Oborne.

4. It's no accident that the wheels have come off the government (Independent)

Steve Richards says that the problem is not that Cameron does too little but that his government does too much.

5. Argentina’s oil raid can only end badly (Financial Times)

John Gapper says that the seizure is extreme, badly timed and unlikely to address the country’s key complaint.

6. Does tax make us slaves or good citizens? (Times) (£)

Many want the freedom to spend more of their own money, says David Aaronovitch. But they still want the police if they are robbed.

7. Cheer for François Hollande in France. But he won't change Europe (Guardian)

If the Socialists win in France it will create a new pole of influence. But their options will be severely limited, says Martin Kettle.

8. France must set aside the spirit of Asterix (Financial Times)

Sovereigntist obsessions have resurfaced in the presidential race, writes Sylvie Goulard.

9. UK officials must come clean about rendition (Independent)

Abdel Hakim Belhaj's lawsuit could mean that light is finally cast on this still-murky subject, says this leading article.

10. Justice Delayed (Times) (£)

The European Court of Human Rights is too often a brake on justice. This leading article argues that it needs urgent reform if Britain is to respect it.


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Why relations between Theresa May and Philip Hammond became tense so quickly

The political imperative of controlling immigration is clashing with the economic imperative of maintaining growth. 

There is no relationship in government more important than that between the prime minister and the chancellor. When Theresa May entered No.10, she chose Philip Hammond, a dependable technocrat and long-standing ally who she had known since Oxford University. 

But relations between the pair have proved far tenser than anticipated. On Wednesday, Hammond suggested that students could be excluded from the net migration target. "We are having conversations within government about the most appropriate way to record and address net migration," he told the Treasury select committee. The Chancellor, in common with many others, has long regarded the inclusion of students as an obstacle to growth. 

The following day Hammond was publicly rebuked by No.10. "Our position on who is included in the figures has not changed, and we are categorically not reviewing whether or not students are included," a spokesman said (as I reported in advance, May believes that the public would see this move as "a fix"). 

This is not the only clash in May's first 100 days. Hammond was aggrieved by the Prime Minister's criticisms of loose monetary policy (which forced No.10 to state that it "respects the independence of the Bank of England") and is resisting tougher controls on foreign takeovers. The Chancellor has also struck a more sceptical tone on the UK's economic prospects. "It is clear to me that the British people did not vote on June 23 to become poorer," he declared in his conference speech, a signal that national prosperity must come before control of immigration. 

May and Hammond's relationship was never going to match the remarkable bond between David Cameron and George Osborne. But should relations worsen it risks becoming closer to that beween Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. Like Hammond, Darling entered the Treasury as a calm technocrat and an ally of the PM. But the extraordinary circumstances of the financial crisis transformed him into a far more assertive figure.

In times of turmoil, there is an inevitable clash between political and economic priorities. As prime minister, Brown resisted talk of cuts for fear of the electoral consequences. But as chancellor, Darling was more concerned with the bottom line (backing a rise in VAT). By analogy, May is focused on the political imperative of controlling immigration, while Hammond is focused on the economic imperative of maintaining growth. If their relationship is to endure far tougher times they will soon need to find a middle way. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.