Morning Call: pick of the papers

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


1. Yulia Tymoshenko is Europe's Aung San Suu Kyi (Guardian)

Ukraine's still-Stalinist judiciary was used to destroy the former prime minister, writes Geoffrey Robertson. Now the United Nations will hear of her plight.

2. A slow convalescence under Obama (Financial Times)

The US economy has not performed badly, but recovery could have been stronger, says Martin Wolf.

3. It was the culture of neglect that allowed Jimmy Savile to flourish (Daily Telegraph)

The torpor of those in authority – at the BBC and elsewhere – has left countless victims, says Mary Riddell.

4. The battle between the Police Federation and the government on police reform rages on (Daily Mail)

The rum bunch who will make up the ranks of the new commissioners could hardly be taking their posts at a worse time, writes Simon Heffer.

5. Blame Nixon & Co for today’s deadlocked US (Times) (£)

The outrageous campaigning of 1972 set the tone for partisan politics, which now hobbles every President, says Daniel Finkelstein.

6. We could win the battle for the EU budget but lose the war (Independent)

We have an interesting and strong hand of cards to play, but we need to play them thoughtfully as well as forcefully, writes Hamish McRae.

7. US rivals fall prey to China syndrome (Financial Times)

Beijing-bashing by Obama and Romney is a cause for concern, says an FT editorial.

8. Boris proves the power of this police reform (Daily Telegraph)

Police and crime commissioners will ensure that the public will be connected with their force, argues Nick Herbert.

9. Americans would also gain from scaling back the empire (Guardian)

The presidential foreign policy debate showed how close the candidates were – and how far from their own public opinion, writes Seumas Milne.

10. I’ll happily wager Russians will have a new capital by mid-century (Independent)

Moscow's time is running out - St Petersburg's renovation has brought the city a renewed sense of dignity and civic pride, says Mary Dejevsky.


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What type of Brexit did we vote for? 150,000 Conservative members will decide

As Michael Gove launches his leadership bid, what Leave looks like will be decided by Conservative activists.

Why did 17 million people vote to the leave the European Union, and what did they want? That’s the question that will shape the direction of British politics and economics for the next half-century, perhaps longer.

Vote Leave triumphed in part because they fought a campaign that combined ruthless precision about what the European Union would do – the illusory £350m a week that could be clawed back with a Brexit vote, the imagined 75 million Turks who would rock up to Britain in the days after a Remain vote – with calculated ambiguity about what exit would look like.

Now that ambiguity will be clarified – by just 150,000 people.

 That’s part of why the initial Brexit losses on the stock market have been clawed back – there is still some expectation that we may end up with a more diluted version of a Leave vote than the version offered by Vote Leave. Within the Treasury, the expectation is that the initial “Brexit shock” has been pushed back until the last quarter of the year, when the election of a new Conservative leader will give markets an idea of what to expect.  

Michael Gove, who kicked off his surprise bid today, is running as the “full-fat” version offered by Vote Leave: exit from not just the European Union but from the single market, a cash bounty for Britain’s public services, more investment in science and education. Make Britain great again!

Although my reading of the Conservative parliamentary party is that Gove’s chances of getting to the top two are receding, with Andrea Leadsom the likely beneficiary. She, too, will offer something close to the unadulterated version of exit that Gove is running on. That is the version that is making officials in Whitehall and the Bank of England most nervous, as they expect it means exit on World Trade Organisation terms, followed by lengthy and severe recession.

Elsewhere, both Stephen Crabb and Theresa May, who supported a Remain vote, have kicked off their campaigns with a promise that “Brexit means Brexit” in the words of May, while Crabb has conceded that, in his view, the Leave vote means that Britain will have to take more control of its borders as part of any exit deal. May has made retaining Britain’s single market access a priority, Crabb has not.

On the Labour side, John McDonnell has set out his red lines in a Brexit negotiation, and again remaining in the single market is a red line, alongside access to the European Investment Bank, and the maintenance of “social Europe”. But he, too, has stated that Brexit means the “end of free movement”.

My reading – and indeed the reading within McDonnell’s circle – is that it is the loyalists who are likely to emerge victorious in Labour’s power struggle, although it could yet be under a different leader. (Serious figures in that camp are thinking about whether Clive Lewis might be the solution to the party’s woes.) Even if they don’t, the rebels’ alternate is likely either to be drawn from the party’s Brownite tendency or to have that faction acting as its guarantors, making an end to free movement a near-certainty on the Labour side.

Why does that matter? Well, the emerging consensus on Whitehall is that, provided you were willing to sacrifice the bulk of Britain’s financial services to Frankfurt and Paris, there is a deal to be struck in which Britain remains subject to only three of the four freedoms – free movement of goods, services, capital and people – but retains access to the single market. 

That means that what Brexit actually looks like remains a matter of conjecture, a subject of considerable consternation for British officials. For staff at the Bank of England,  who have to make a judgement call in their August inflation report as to what the impact of an out vote will be. The Office of Budget Responsibility expects that it will be heavily led by the Bank. Britain's short-term economic future will be driven not by elected politicians but by polls of the Conservative membership. A tense few months await. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.