Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. A far from triumphant end to the war in Iraq (Independent)

Iraq and the world are better off without Saddam, says this leading article. But the price paid was too high.

2. Be warned, America's withdrawal from Iraq heralds a world of instability (Guardian)

Our troops' presence is needed in this land that is far from secure, says John Bolton, who served as ambassador to the UN under George Bush.

3. Trial and Error (Times) (£)

This leading article says that the issue of detainees captured in Iraq and Afghanistan must be addressed.

4. The highs and lows of democracy (Financial Times)

Philip Stephen looks back at 2011, when tyrants have fallen, while elected leaders have been frozen in crisis.

5. The cause of this recession? Economic pundits ignoring history's voice (Guardian)

As long as factional interests like bankers or economists override common sense, there will be another crash, warns Simon Jenkins.

6. Enter Ed M, the Accidental Prime Minister (Times) (£)

Philip Collins explains how the ghosts of the Brussels summit could come back to haunt Cameron's Conservatives -- and the country.

7. Profit needn't be a dirty word when it comes to education (Daily Telegraph)

Michael Gove might have kept quiet about Breckland Free School, but it could be the start of something great, argues Fraser Nelson.

8. Death by strangling: the demise of state spending (Financial Times)

It is false that low taxes have spared the US from the European disease, writes Jeffrey Sachs.

9. You can't save troubled families on the cheap (Times) (£)

We know where the problems are, says Camila Batmanghelidjh. But Whitehall needs to do the psychological maths.

10. Will China's rulers listen to the voices of its downtrodden masses? (Daily Telegraph)

Jonathan Fenby writes that the protests in Wukan are a nightmare for the Communist rulers of a divided country.

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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.