Morning Call: pick of the comment

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

1. The inconvenient truths about Tory councils (Guardian)

Jon Cruddas and Chuka Umunna argue that the record of Conservative councils on green issues and public services shows up David Cameron's claim that the Tories are "progressive".

2. Even failed terrorists spell serious trouble (Times)

David Aaronovitch says that the airline "bomber" reminds us that there are jihadis who continually experiment with ways of achieving the next 9/11. The "it's all an exaggerated fuss" brigade has been proved wrong again.

3. Cameron will regret flirting with Clegg (Independent)

Michael Brown warns David Cameron that his persistent overtures to the Lib Dems dilute his political message and expose a lack of confidence.

4. Gordon Brown should forget class war and worry about civil war (Telegraph)

Mary Riddell says the Prime Minister must act to prevent an escalation of government feuding that could swiftly hand power to David Cameron.

5. Global tides that shaped the Noughties (Financial Times)

Simon Schama says that the past decade has profoundly undermined the collective optimism of the Enlightenment.

6. Gladstone was a political giant compared to our puny, modern MPs (Guardian)

Geoffrey Wheatcroft laments that no modern politician attracts the awed admiration Gladstone received from friend and foe alike.

7. Some in the US already see Arab state as "tomorrow's target" (Independent)

Patrick Cockburn warns that Yemen may become a target for US intervention, with Washington quietly supplying military equipment and training to the Yemeni armed forces.

8. In Africa they won't feel lonesome tonight (Times)

Richard Dowden says that Africa's communalism has a lot to teach a world that suffers from loneliness and depression.

9. Iran and Twitter: the fatal folly of the online revolutionaries (Daily Telegraph)

Will Heaven argues that Twitter activists have done little to give genuine support to Iranian dissidents.

10. Look back in anger at the spirit of the age (Financial Times)

John Kay looks at the phrases that encapsulated an era of financial folly.


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PMQs review: Theresa May shows again that Brexit means hard Brexit

The Prime Minister's promise of "an end to free movement" is incompatible with single market membership. 

Theresa May, it is commonly said, has told us nothing about Brexit. At today's PMQs, Jeremy Corbyn ran with this line, demanding that May offer "some clarity". In response, as she has before, May stated what has become her defining aim: "an end to free movement". This vow makes a "hard Brexit" (or "chaotic Brexit" as Corbyn called it) all but inevitable. The EU regards the "four freedoms" (goods, capital, services and people) as indivisible and will not grant the UK an exemption. The risk of empowering eurosceptics elsewhere is too great. Only at the cost of leaving the single market will the UK regain control of immigration.

May sought to open up a dividing line by declaring that "the Labour Party wants to continue with free movement" (it has refused to rule out its continuation). "I want to deliver on the will of the British people, he is trying to frustrate the British people," she said. The problem is determining what the people's will is. Though polls show voters want control of free movement, they also show they want to maintain single market membership. It is not only Boris Johnson who is pro-having cake and pro-eating it. 

Corbyn later revealed that he had been "consulting the great philosophers" as to the meaning of Brexit (a possible explanation for the non-mention of Heathrow, Zac Goldsmith's resignation and May's Goldman Sachs speech). "All I can come up with is Baldrick, who says our cunning plan is to have no plan," he quipped. Without missing a beat, May replied: "I'm interested that [he] chose Baldrick, of course the actor playing Baldrick was a member of the Labour Party, as I recall." (Tony Robinson, a Corbyn critic ("crap leader"), later tweeted that he still is one). "We're going to deliver the best possible deal in goods and services and we're going to deliver an end to free movement," May continued. The problem for her is that the latter aim means that the "best possible deal" may be a long way from the best. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.