Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Is Boris serious? When it comes to No 10, the answer is deadly so (Daily Telegraph)

After years of brilliant digression, London’s mayor is returning to his life’s true theme, writes Charles Moore.

2. It's a long shot. But don't bet against Boris Johnson going for gold (Guardian)

He may end up like would-be PMs Portillo or Parkinson, writes Jonathan Freedland. If anyone can pull it off, though, it's magic Johnson.

3. Self-defeating Tory victory on Lords reform (Independent)

The coalition has lost a unique opportunity to introduce political change, says an Independent leader.

4. Mark Duggan: the lessons the police haven't learned (Guardian)

A year after the killing of Mark Duggan, his family and community still feel ignored and marginalised, says Stafford Scott.

5. The meaning of Boris: high jinks not high office (Financial Times)

The hype about Johnson is due to Britain’s inexperience with localism, writes Janan Ganesh.

6. Unless the Prime Minister uses his holiday to think big, he'll have a lot more time for chillaxing... (Daily Mail)

Cameron may or may not need an economic Plan B, but he certainly needs a political Plan B, says Tim Montgomerie.

7. Oh, what a precious, exhilarating week! (Daily Telegraph)

The Games are working their magic, says Mick Brown, uniting Britain in a celebration of sporting heroes.

8. Shafilea Ahmed: a girl betrayed (Guardian)

There can be no exonerating circumstance, no licence granted to those who claim cultural protection for brutality,  says a Guardian editorial.

9. The buzz is better when we do it together (Times) (£)

Like bees in a hive, we humans thrive when our tribe is united, says Janice Turner. Enjoy this summer of communal thrills.

10. A love letter from a US conservative to the postman (Financial Times)

Selling monopolies to private parties is a Russian kind of medicine: worse than the disease, says Christopher Caldwell.

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

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.