Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The world is stuck in a vicious cycle (Financial Times)

Without a full course of treatment, the economic patient risks relapse, writes Lawrence Summers.

2. Andrew Mitchell should be gone by Wednesday (Guardian)

David Cameron can't sit this one out, says Jackie Ashley. The 'pleb' row has changed how voters see his party and is turning into a calamity.

3. BAE Systems, arms traders, and how the sordid greed of some of our rulers knows no bounds (Independent)

We will never be able to challenge the hold of British arms companies until their links with the establishment are severed, says Owen Jones.

4. Go for the common ground, not the centre (Times) (£)

You can be Eurosceptic and still love the NHS, writes Tim Montgomerie. The Tories can win if they say so.

5. Occupy was right – all the church could say was 'go home' (Guardian)

When the protest began exactly one year ago, the Church of England should also have been angry about the financial crisis, writes Giles Fraser.

6. Don’t honour a Brussels office block – give the Nobel to Maggie (Daily Telegraph)

Britain’s former prime minister has done far more than the EU to foster peace in Europe, argues Boris Johnson.

7.  George Osborne is still in denial over his failing strategy (Guardian)

The IMF's downgrade of its forecast for Britain shows how reckless it is for the chancellor to press on with austerity, says Ed Balls.

8. Too many wrongs made by a Wright over Hillsborough (Sun)

Four crucial witnesses may never have spoken publicly about the deceit peddled to them by South Yorkshire Police, writes Trevor Kavanagh.

9. Mexico is forgotten story of US election (Financial Times)

Americans only think of their neighbour as a law and order problem, says Edward Luce.

10. Will Murdoch move backfire on top Tory? (Daily Mail)

It defies belief that Maria Miller has not distanced herself from the Murdoch clan, writes Andrew Pierce.

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The government needs more on airports than just Chris Grayling's hunch

This disastrous plan to expand Heathrow will fail, vows Tom Brake. 

I ought to stop being surprised by Theresa May’s decision making. After all, in her short time as Prime Minister she has made a series of terrible decisions. First, we had Chief Buffoon, Boris Johnson appointed as Foreign Secretary to represent the United Kingdom around the world. Then May, announced full steam ahead with the most extreme version of Brexit, causing mass economic uncertainty before we’ve even begun negotiations with the EU. And now we have the announcement that expansion of Heathrow Airport, in the form of a third runway, will go ahead: a colossally expensive, environmentally disastrous, and ill-advised decision.

In the House of Commons on Tuesday, I asked Transport Secretary Chris Grayling why the government is “disregarding widespread hostility and bulldozing through a third runway, which will inflict crippling noise, significant climate change effects, health-damaging air pollution and catastrophic congestion on a million Londoners.” His response was nothing more than “because we don’t believe it’s going to do those things.”

I find this astonishing. It appears that the government is proceeding with a multi-billion pound project with Grayling’s beliefs as evidence. Why does the government believe that a country of our size should focus on one major airport in an already overcrowded South East? Germany has multiple major airports, Spain three, the French, Italians, and Japanese have at least two. And I find it astonishing that the government is paying such little heed to our legal and moral environmental obligations.

One of my first acts as an MP nineteen years ago was to set out the Liberal Democrat opposition to the expansion of Heathrow or any airport in southeast England. The United Kingdom has a huge imbalance between the London and the South East, and the rest of the country. This imbalance is a serious issue which our government must get to work remedying. Unfortunately, the expansion of Heathrow does just the opposite - it further concentrates government spending and private investment on this overcrowded corner of the country.

Transport for London estimates that to make the necessary upgrades to transport links around Heathrow will be £10-£20 billion pounds. Heathrow airport is reportedly willing to pay only £1billion of those costs. Without upgrades to the Tube and rail links, the impact on London’s already clogged roads will be substantial. Any diversion of investment from improving TfL’s wider network to lines serving Heathrow would be catastrophic for the capital. And it will not be welcomed by Londoners who already face a daily ordeal of crowded tubes and traffic-delayed buses. In the unlikely event that the government agrees to fund this shortfall, this would be salt in the wound for the South-West, the North, and other parts of the country already deprived of funding for improved rail and road links.

Increased congestion in the capital will not only raise the collective blood pressure of Londoners, but will have severe detrimental effects on our already dire levels of air pollution. During each of the last ten years, air pollution levels have been breached at multiple sites around Heathrow. While a large proportion of this air pollution is caused by surface transport serving Heathrow, a third more planes arriving and departing adds yet more particulates to the air. Even without expansion, it is imperative that we work out how to clean this toxic air. Barrelling ahead without doing so is irresponsible, doing nothing but harm our planet and shorten the lives of those living in west London.

We need an innovative, forward-looking strategy. We need to make transferring to a train to Cardiff after a flight from Dubai as straightforward and simple as transferring to another flight is now. We need to invest in better rail links so travelling by train to the centre of Glasgow or Edinburgh is quicker than flying. Expanding Heathrow means missing our climate change targets is a certainty; it makes life a misery for those who live around the airport and it diverts precious Government spending from other more worthy projects.

The Prime Minister would be wise to heed her own advice to the 2008 government and “recognise widespread hostility to Heathrow expansion.” The decision to build a third runway at Heathrow is the wrong one and if she refuses to U-turn she will soon discover the true extent of the opposition to these plans.

Tom Brake is the Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton & Wallington.