Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. UK has political capital to lift investment (Financial Times)

There is significant room for the government to raise capital spending, says Tory MP Jesse Norman.

2. No exaggeration: Ukip is now a force to reckon with (Guardian)

If the cards fall its way, Nigel Farage's party will shape both the 2015 election and the politics of Britain and Europe for a generation, says Martin Kettle.

3. Why fuss over exams at 16? No one else does (Times) (£)

O levels, GCSEs or the EBC – they all look obsolete as the school-leaving age rises to 18, writes David Miliband.

4. What exactly makes the Lib Dems different? (Independent)

The party has two problems: lack of policy impact and ambivalence over the true meaning of localism, says Steve Richards.

5. This shameful BAE Systems deal would rip the heart out of Britain plc (Daily Mail)

Companies with the word ‘British’ in their name have become easy prey for predators, writes Alex Brummer.

6. Do we really want to arm our police? (Daily Telegraph)

Despite the murder of two unarmed WPcs in Manchester, few officers want an armed force, writes Philip Johnston.

7. The justice and security bill is on the right track (Guardian)

As an instinctive liberal, I believe this bill will shine a light into the state's darkest corners, writes Ken Clarke.

8. Pinstripes, plain views – and a real problem for Cameron (Daily Telegraph)

Ukip hopes to split the Tory leadership from its base, writes Paul Goodman. The PM would be a fool to ignore the threat.

9. A plague we must stop before it is endemic (Independent)

If Britain was ever an uncorrupt society, those days are long passed, writes Andreas Whittam Smith. MPs and police officers work in small, closed societies where bad practices easily flourish.

10. The real lesson from Japan’s lost decade (Financial Times)

The Treasury should set the Bank of England a nominal GDP target, argues Chris Giles.

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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.