Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. David Cameron won’t win an election by adopting the politics of fear (Daily Telegraph)

The Prime Minister must distil from a mish-mash of Tory policies a vision to unite the country, writes Mary Riddell.

2. Lessons from history on public debt (Financial Times)

Fiscal austerity and efforts to lower wages break societies, governments and even states, warns Martin Wolf.

3. Burglars are already bashable (Independent)

With so much already in place, Grayling's initiative looks little more than a conference crowd-pleaser, says an Independent leader.

4. We need an iconoclast to lead the Bank of England (Guardian)

Central bankers are acting like allied commanders at the Battle of the Somme, writes Simon Jenkins. Adair Turner would be a breath of fresh air.

5. Colonoscopy: the way to see today’s politics (Times) (£)

In the same way patients forget pain, voters forget the bad times if the economy improves before an election, says Daniel Finkelstein.

6. Don't trust this X Factor showman with your wife or your wallet, let alone your country (Daily Mail)

Boris Johnson is not a man to believe in, to trust or respect, says Max Hastings.

7. Hooray for Boris, a one-man opposition (Financial Times)

London’s Tory mayor might be a gift to Labour, writes Denis MacShane.

 8. The Chávez victory will be felt far beyond Latin America (Guardian)

Popular support for Venezuela's revolution shows the growing space for genuine alternatives in the 21st century, says Seumas Milne.

9. A return to policing before the days of Z Cars (Daily Telegraph)

After half a century of central control, police commissioners will give power back to the people, writes Philip Johnston.

10. Conservative conference: a mix of rage and reason (Guardian)

Tory law and order conference speeches were once greeted with howls to bring back hanging, says a Guardian editorial. How times have changed.

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The Brexiteers have lost battles but they are still set to win the war

The prospect of the UK avoiding Brexit, or even a “hard” version, remains doubtful. 

Before the general election, the Brexiteers would boast that everything had gone their way. Parliament had voted to trigger Article 50 by a majority of 372. The Treasury-forecast recession hadn't occurred. And polls showed the public backing Brexit by a comfortable margin

But since the Conservatives' electoral humbling, the Leavers have been forced to retreat on multiple fronts. After promising in May that the dispute over the timetable for the Brexit talks would be "the fight of the summer", David Davis capitulated on the first day.

The UK will be forced to settle matters such as EU citizens' rights, the Irish border and the divorce bill before discussions begin on a future relationship. Having previously insisted that a new trade deal could agreed by 29 March 2019 (Britain's scheduled departure date), the Brexiteers have now conceded that this is, in Liam Fox's words, "optimistic" (translation: deluded). 

That means the transitional arrangement the Leavers once resisted is now regarded as inevitable. After the eradication of the Conservatives' majority, the insistence that "no deal is better than a bad deal" is no longer credible. No deal would mean the immediate return of a hard Northern Irish border (to the consternation of the Tories' partners the DUP) and, in a hung parliament, there are no longer the votes required to pursue a radical deregulatory, free market agenda (for the purpose of undercutting the EU). As importantly for the Conservatives, an apocalyptic exit could pave the way for a Jeremy Corbyn premiership (a figure they previously regarded as irretrievably doomed). 

Philip Hammond, emboldened by the humiliation of the Prime Minister who planned to sack him, has today outlined an alternative. After formally departing the EU in 2019, Britain will continue to abide by the rules of the single market and the customs union: the acceptance of free movement, European legal supremacy, continued budget contributions and a prohibition on independent trade deals. Faced with the obstacles described above, even hard Brexiteers such as Liam Fox and Michael Gove have recognised that the game is up.

But though they have lost battles, the Leavers are still set to win the war. There is no parliamentary majority for a second referendum (with the pro-Remain Liberal Democrats still enfeebled), Hammond has conceded that any transitional arrangement would end by June 2022 (the scheduled date of the next election) and most MPs are prepared to accept single market withdrawal. The prospect of Britain avoiding Brexit, or even a "hard" version, remains doubtful. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.