Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. It's Palestinians who have the right to defend themselves (Guardian)

Gazans are an occupied people and have the right to resist, including by armed force, says Seumas Milne.

2. A Terrible Failure (Times) (£)

The Church of England’s vote against women bishops does a disservice to half the population, says a Times leader.

3. This energy debate threatens to tear the coalition apart (Daily Telegraph)

Negotiations over the forthcoming Energy Bill have stirred up poisonous political divisions, writes Mary Riddell.

4. We’re all in this together, including savers (Financial Times)

If Osborne is to be both fair and smart, richer people must take the strain, writes Paul Goodman

5. The protests against austerity have failed. We have to try another way (Independent)

We must present a coherent alternative that resonates with people who live outside the political bubble, says Owen Jones.

6. Syrians may be better off without cheerleaders (Guardian)

Recognising the rebels won't mean the end of Assad, says James Harkin. That's not what the Gulf states want.

7. Israel demands our support because it fights its ‘war against terrorists’ in our name (Independent)

We westerners set the precedent when it comes to "collateral damage", now the Israelis are reeling out the same tired excuses, writes Robert Fisk.

8. Expenses revelations leave a nasty taste (Daily Telegraph)

Speaker John Bercow’s over-zealous attempts to 'protect' MPs have had the opposite effect, says a Telegraph editorial.

9. It's elementary, Cameron. If you want to win in 2015, pick the right fights (Daily Mail)

Lynton Crosby should advise the PM not to start a fight unless he's sure he can win it, says Andrew Alexander.

10. The monumental folly of rent-seeking (Financial Times)

The success of market economies is not achieved by policies that encourage greed, writes John Kay.

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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.