Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Ed Miliband has got answers, so stop asking the wrong questions (Guardian)

The leader's biggest task will be to tackle the despairing belief most British people have that nothing will ever really change, writes Jackie Ashley.

2. Tories still have a trump card: Ed Miliband (Financial Times)

Leader ratings are not always decisive but they matter, says Paul Goodman.

3. The PM can rise above the battle of the tiddlers (Times) (£)

Both Labour and the Tories are in trouble, writes Tim Montgomerie. Much will depend on staving off the Lib Dems and UKIP respectively.

4. Whatever happened to the Labour Party? (Independent)

The party must offer a coherent alternative that defends those it was founded to represent, says Owen Jones.

5. Obama will need more than luck (Financial Times)

If he returns to the White House, the president will face a daunting second term, writes Edward Luce.

6. Why Andrew Mitchell shouldn't be too confident (Daily Mail)

Cameron may have given the chief whip the kiss of death, writes Andrew Pierce.

7. Cardboard man is dead. Now let's redefine masculinity (Guardian)

A new book is right to highlight the identity crisis caused by economic change, writes John Harris. But where's the manifesto for a new man?

8. Unions have a gun to his head (Sun)

As long as union dinosaurs such as McCluskey call the tune, Labour is irrelevant, pointless and doomed, says Trevor Kavanagh.

9. How the public lost its appetite for breakfast telly (Independent)

It used to set the rhythm of the daily news cycle, writes Ian Burrell. But now lifestyles have changed, and with them the way we consume our media.

10. What China could learn from Romney and Obama (Guardian)

The rise and fall of Bo Xilai shows that the country's approach to leadership change is still lacking, says Jonathan Fenby.

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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.