Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The nasty babble which stigmatises depression (Guardian)

Mental health debate is like a pre-Enlightenment scream in its ignorance, writes Tanya Gold.

2. It is Mitt Romney’s 'gaffes’ that should win him the election (Telegraph)

The Republican best represents his country’s ability to renew itself for each generation, writes Charles Moore.

3. Jimmy Savile was an emperor with no clothes – and a celebrity cloak (Guardian)

Savile's invisible but dazzling cloak of fame stopped everyone from suggesting he was exactly the scary, child-catching creature he seemed to be, writes Deborah Orr.

4. US election: whoever wins on Tuesday, the impact will be profound (Guardian)

It's totally wrong to think there's little difference between Obama and Romney. We should all remember Gore v Bush, writes Jonathan Freedland.

5. The United States: a struggling nation that is polls apart (Telegraph)

America is divided as never before on class, gender, race and economic lines – but voters agree on the big issue, writes Niall Ferguson.

6. A land worth fighting for (Telegraph)

Fifty years on, we still say that adequate housing should not mean concreting over the country, writes the Telegraph.

7. UK rushes needlessly towards the EU exit (Financial Times)

The EU is in an era of transformation, writes Martin Wolf.

8. George Lucas: The director strikes back (Financial Times)

Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm is the end of an unlikely Hollywood story, writes Nigel Andrews.

9. It took Sandy for the US to debate science (Financial Times)

The superstorm has given climate change the importance it deserves, writes Clive Cookson.

10. Heseltine or Redwood? I say firmly: ‘Yes’ (Times)

 

The important Tory divide is not over Europe, but between believers and disbelievers in the magic of state action, writes Matthew Parris.

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Theresa May's "clean Brexit" is hard Brexit with better PR

The Prime Minister's objectives point to the hardest of exits from the European Union. 

Theresa May will outline her approach to Britain’s Brexit deal in a much-hyped speech later today, with a 12-point plan for Brexit.

The headlines: her vow that Britain will not be “half in, half out” and border control will come before our membership of the single market.

And the PM will unveil a new flavour of Brexit: not hard, not soft, but “clean” aka hard but with better PR.

“Britain's clean break from EU” is the i’s splash, “My 12-point plan for Brexit” is the Telegraph’s, “We Will Get Clean Break From EU” cheers the Express, “Theresa’s New Free Britain” roars the Mail, “May: We’ll Go It Alone With CLEAN Brexit” is the Metro’s take. The Guardian goes for the somewhat more subdued “May rules out UK staying in single market” as their splash while the Sun opts for “Great Brexpectations”.

You might, at this point, be grappling with a sense of déjà vu. May’s new approach to the Brexit talks is pretty much what you’d expect from what she’s said since getting the keys to Downing Street, as I wrote back in October. Neither of her stated red lines, on border control or freeing British law from the European Court of Justice, can be met without taking Britain out of the single market aka a hard Brexit in old money.

What is new is the language on the customs union, the only area where May has actually been sparing on detail. The speech will make it clear that after Brexit, Britain will want to strike its own trade deals, which means that either an unlikely exemption will be carved out, or, more likely, that the United Kingdom will be out of the European Union, the single market and the customs union.

(As an aside, another good steer about the customs union can be found in today’s row between Boris Johnson and the other foreign ministers of the EU27. He is under fire for vetoing an EU statement in support of a two-state solution, reputedly to curry favour with Donald Trump. It would be strange if Downing Street was shredding decades of British policy on the Middle East to appease the President-Elect if we weren’t going to leave the customs union in order at the end of it.)

But what really matters isn’t what May says today but what happens around Europe over the next few months. Donald Trump’s attacks on the EU and Nato yesterday will increase the incentive on the part of the EU27 to put securing the political project front-and-centre in the Brexit talks, making a good deal for Britain significantly less likely.

Add that to the unforced errors on the part of the British government, like Amber Rudd’s wheeze to compile lists of foreign workers, and the diplomatic situation is not what you would wish to secure the best Brexit deal, to put it mildly.

Clean Brexit? Nah. It’s going to get messy. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.