Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Financial jargon is all Greek to me save one word - debt (Guardian)
The economics of global trade with China and the creation of the euro long seemed to defy logic. But what would I know, asks Peter Wilby?

2. Millions, billions, trillions...We lack the imagination to grasp these sums (Independent)
People don't understand what big money is at all, writes Philip Hensher

3. Let's end the triple-A fetish (Guardian)
Nations will dance to the credit rating agencies' tune until they shrug off the threat of a downgrade, argues Mehdi Hasan

4. A crisis in leadership that could ruin us all (Daily Mail)
The most appealling aspect of the present catastrophe is that it was avoidable, argues Alex Brummer

5. Sometimes it's so bad that you can't just blame the politicians (Independent)
There are some problems that nobody knows how to solve, says Christina Patterson

6. In this second wave of crisis, the pain has to be shared (Guardian)
This government is insulated from the brutal nature of its cuts. It must invest in the young to avoid a crippling legacy, says Polly Toynbee

7. The party's over. Buy back the family silver (Times) (£)
British politics is back to its ancient course: the management of decline, argues Matthew Parris

8. Keep calm and carry on as financial crisis looms (Telegraph)
The ominous rumbing of an impending economic meltdown has echoes of the 'phoney war' of 1939-40, says Matthew Norman

9. Capitalism in crisis (Daily Mail)
Eighty years ago, a banking collapse devastated Europe, triggering war. Today, faith in the free markets is faltering again, writes Dominic Sandbrook

10. A crisis that will reveal if this pair are simply lightweights
The maelstrom in the financial markets present the greatest leadership challenge yet for Cameron and Osborne, says Iain Martin.



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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.