Morning Call: pick of the comment

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

1.This is no ripping yarn, but a murder to fan more conflict (Guardian)

Seumas Milne attacks the "craven" response of the British government to the Hamas leader's killing in Dubai. The assassination was a scandal that has put British citizens at greater risk by association with Mossad death squads, he writes.

2. Whoever you vote for, painful cuts will come (Times)

Anatole Kaletsky says that the important differences between Labour and the Tories are not over the size or timing of cuts, but over whether voters and the markets believe the new government will have the strength to implement them.

3. The false promise of romantic ideas (Independent)

One of the main divisions within the Labour Party is that between romantic and practical politicians, writes Steve Richards. Romantics such as James Purnell may appear bold, but they avoid the tough task of implementing policy, which demands more courage.

4. Cameron will transform Britain, if the Tories can win the political game (Daily Telegraph)

David Cameron should personally avoid negative campaigning, but he ought to find others to do it for him, says Bruce Anderson. A more robust campaign would dispel some of the growing anxiety at Tory HQ.

5. America is in need of a pep talk from its president (Financial Times)

Robert Shiller says Barack Obama should remember the role that Franklin D Roosevelt's personal addresses played in the success of his economic plans. Through moral rhetoric, leaders can boost economic confidence.

6. We need judges to investigate our spies, not spies to berate our judges (Guardian)

Timothy Garton Ash argues that the criticism of judges over the Binyam Mohamed case is entirely unwarranted. And he calls for a judicial inquiry into the past conduct of MI5.

7. The hand extended to Syria is also intended as a blow to Iran (Independent)

The renewed US engagement with Syria is part of a huge diplomatic push to isolate and roll back Iran, says Andrew Tabler.

8. Don't panic about inflation -- that can wait (Daily Telegraph)

Edmund Conway argues that now is not the time to panic about inflation. Far more worrying are the recessionary forces still damaging the economy.

9. Give me Tory dinosaurs any day over rude upstarts who seem to hate their own party (Daily Mail)

Stephen Glover criticises the Tory candidate Joanne Cash for mocking her party's grass roots as "dinosaurs". As Conservatives, Cash and Cameron should cherish the wisdom and experience of the old guard.

10. Reject ad hoc, national financial reforms (Financial Times)

Dominic Strauss-Kahn, head of the IMF, says the world's leading economies must remember that co-ordinated action works better than unilateralism.

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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.