Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from today's papers.

  1. I wish I had trusted my instincts on Plebgate (Times)
    Matthew Parris examines the abuse of police authority which led to Andrew Mitchell's smearing.
  2. Cheer up. All this doom and gloom plays into the Tories' hands (Guardian)
    If the idea that we're all screwed takes hold, the Conservatives will end up exploiting the fear they've created, writes Zoe Williams.
  3. London’s ‘white flight’ deserves attention (Financial Times)
    That the city is no longer majority ‘white British’ is a remarkable development, writes David Goodhart.
  4. A huge risk we pro-Europeans must take (Guardian)
    Shaun Woodward writes that a referendum on the EU may now be the only way forward for those of us who see membership as vital to the UK's future.
  5. There’s a whiff of failure at the heart of our honours system (Telegraph)
    The PM promised to end the abuses, but there are signs of a return to the old ways, reports Peter Oborne.
  6. Britain needs to adopt a more German face (Financial Times)
    As a model of coping with sudden slowing, Berlin has achieved a better result than Tokyo, writes Chris Giles.
  7. Don’t lampoon what the NRA says. Ask why (Times)
    Guns are attractive, suicide complicated. Until we grasp the reasons behind the headlines, we remain unenlightened, argues David Aaronovitch
  8. With all the fuss over Kate Middleton's baby, have we learned nothing since Princess Diana?
    (Independent) God help us if the Royal Foetus is all we have to look forward to in 2013, writes Viv Groksop.
  9. Pensioners are about to be robbed yet again (Telegraph)
    The Chancellor is poised to alter the way inflation is calculated and interest paid, says Philip Johnston.
  10. So you think the wealth gap is growing? Wrong (Independent)
    Not only are we all in it together, but the rich are bearing and will bear a greater share of the burden of taxes than the poor. Why won't the Coalition say this more loudly, asks John Rentoul.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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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.