Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. How to defuse the bonus bomb in one move (Times) (£)

Simon Wolfson argues that the riskier a bank's business, the less it should be allowed to pay staff. That's fair to shareholders, taxpayers and savers.

2. Don't put venture capital at risk (Financial Times)

John Gapper warns that the industry is on the same threshold that both banking and private equity crossed before, with unintended consequences.

3. The rule of law in Britain is diminished by the furore over efforts to deport Abu Qatada to Jordan (Daily Telegraph)

The British parliament has lost sight of the noble principles that Strasbourg has upheld, says Peter Oborne.

4. Call Strasbourg's bluff: send Qatada home (Times) (£)

Camilla Cavendish argues that Britain must stand up for itself as the European Court of Human Rights interferes in affairs well beyond its remit.

5. Angela Merkel needs all the help she can get (Guardian)

Few had anticipated the leadership dilemmas of a European Germany in a German Europe, says Timothy Garton Ash.

6. Run the NHS better or scrap it -- but give up reforming it (Independent)

"Patient choice" is largely a myth, says Steve Richards -- unless we pay for half-empty hospital wards.

7. Ignore the soporific jargon. Privatisation is a race to the bottom (Guardian)

The outsourcing of state services always leads to workers being paid less, says Zoe Williams. Instead our leaders call it an "efficiency saving".

8. US Presidential campaign: Never has the good news sounded so bad (Daily Telegraph)

Anne Applebaum says that the sudden growth of the US economy spells trouble for Democrats as well as Republicans.

9. Where Wukan has led, Beijing won't follow (Financial Times)

Village protesters in China will not unnerve the state, says David Pilling.

10. Sweetheart tax deals aren't for the little people (Independent)

Andreas Whittam Smith suggests that Harry Redknapp's problem was that he was a private individual and not a large company.

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Richmond is a wake-up call for Labour's Brexit strategy

No one made Labour stand in Richmond Park. 

Oh, Labour Party. There was a way through.

No one made you stand in Richmond Park. You could have "struck a blow against the government", you could have shared the Lib Dem success. Instead, you lost both your dignity and your deposit. And to cap it all (Christian Wolmar, take a bow) you self-nominated for a Nobel Prize for Mansplaining.

It’s like the party strategist is locked in the bowels of HQ, endlessly looping in reverse Olivia Newton John’s "Making a Good Thing Better".

And no one can think that today marks the end of the party’s problems on Brexit.

But the thing is: there’s no need to Labour on. You can fix it.

Set the government some tests. Table some amendments: “The government shall negotiate having regard to…”

  • What would be good for our economy (boost investment, trade and jobs).
  • What would enhance fairness (help individuals and communities who have missed out over the last decades).
  • What would deliver sovereignty (magnify our democratic control over our destiny).
  • What would improve finances (what Brexit makes us better off, individually and collectively). 

And say that, if the government does not meet those tests, the Labour party will not support the Article 50 deal. You’ll take some pain today – but no matter, the general election is not for years. And if the tests are well crafted they will be easy to defend.

Then wait for the negotiations to conclude. If in 2019, Boris Johnson returns bearing cake for all, if the tests are achieved, Labour will, and rightly, support the government’s Brexit deal. There will be no second referendum. And MPs in Leave voting constituencies will bear no Brexit penalty at the polls.

But if he returns with thin gruel? If the economy has tanked, if inflation is rising and living standards have slumped, and the deficit has ballooned – what then? The only winners will be door manufacturers. Across the country they will be hard at work replacing those kicked down at constituency offices by voters demanding a fix. Labour will be joined in rejecting the deal from all across the floor: Labour will have shown the way.

Because the party reads the electorate today as wanting Brexit, it concludes it must deliver it. But, even for those who think a politician’s job is to channel the electorate, this thinking discloses an error in logic. The task is not to read the political dynamic of today. It is to position itself for the dynamic when it matters - at the next general election

And by setting some economic tests for a good Brexit, Labour can buy an option on that for free.

An earlier version of this argument appeared on Jolyon Maugham's blog Waiting For Tax.

Jolyon Maugham is a barrister who advised Ed Miliband on tax policy. He blogs at Waiting for Tax, and writes for the NS on tax and legal issues.