Morning Call: pick of the papers

Ten must-read pieces from this morning's papers.

1. Those who want out of the EU are raising a glass to themselves to soon (Observer)

The forces that will defend the idea of Britain staying in the EU are formidable. They just haven't woken up yet, writes Andrew Rawnsley.

2. A Frankenstein moment for Cameron as he squares up to his monster (Mail on Sunday)

There will be divisions in the Prime Minister's team about the best response to the Leveson report, notes James Forsyth.

3. A tough new Labour party emerges - on the ground (Observer)

Nick Cohen has watched Labour councils dealing with austerity and is encouraged.

4. I see on last, faint hope for a truly free British press (Sunday Telegraph)

Matthew D'Ancona thinks the Prime Minister should give the press one last chance before imposing statutory regulation.

5. Why Dave doesn't give a hoot about the EU budget (Independent on Sunday)

Downing Street's insouciance matches the mood of the nation, says John Rentoul.

6. Where is Africa's share of the spoils (Independent on Sunday)

Vince Cable wants to bring more transparency to resource extraction industries in Africa.

7. Growing gulf divides the two Europes (Independent on Sunday)

North v South; Eurozonve v the rest - the real problem for the EU is economic divergence, says Hamish McRae.

8. Why, as a journalist and ex-editor, I believe it is time to regulate the press (Observer)

Will Hutton isn't impressed by special pleading dressed up as free speech crusading by the press ahead of the Leveson report.

9. Houdini Dave can slip the Leveson trap (Sunday Times)

Special pleading dressed up as free speech crusading ahead of the Leveson report, by Martin Ivens.

10. Osborne needs to end the economic drift (Sunday Times)

Leading article, containing facile economic prescriptions, noteworthy only for snarky tone: the government are so rubbish it makes Labour look good.

 

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The Brexiteers have lost battles but they are still set to win the war

The prospect of the UK avoiding Brexit, or even a “hard” version, remains doubtful. 

Before the general election, the Brexiteers would boast that everything had gone their way. Parliament had voted to trigger Article 50 by a majority of 372. The Treasury-forecast recession hadn't occurred. And polls showed the public backing Brexit by a comfortable margin

But since the Conservatives' electoral humbling, the Leavers have been forced to retreat on multiple fronts. After promising in May that the dispute over the timetable for the Brexit talks would be "the fight of the summer", David Davis capitulated on the first day.

The UK will be forced to settle matters such as EU citizens' rights, the Irish border and the divorce bill before discussions begin on a future relationship. Having previously insisted that a new trade deal could agreed by 29 March 2019 (Britain's scheduled departure date), the Brexiteers have now conceded that this is, in Liam Fox's words, "optimistic" (translation: deluded). 

That means the transitional arrangement the Leavers once resisted is now regarded as inevitable. After the eradication of the Conservatives' majority, the insistence that "no deal is better than a bad deal" is no longer credible. No deal would mean the immediate return of a hard Northern Irish border (to the consternation of the Tories' partners the DUP) and, in a hung parliament, there are no longer the votes required to pursue a radical deregulatory, free market agenda (for the purpose of undercutting the EU). As importantly for the Conservatives, an apocalyptic exit could pave the way for a Jeremy Corbyn premiership (a figure they previously regarded as irretrievably doomed). 

Philip Hammond, emboldened by the humiliation of the Prime Minister who planned to sack him, has today outlined an alternative. After formally departing the EU in 2019, Britain will continue to abide by the rules of the single market and the customs union: the acceptance of free movement, European legal supremacy, continued budget contributions and a prohibition on independent trade deals. Faced with the obstacles described above, even hard Brexiteers such as Liam Fox and Michael Gove have recognised that the game is up.

But though they have lost battles, the Leavers are still set to win the war. There is no parliamentary majority for a second referendum (with the pro-Remain Liberal Democrats still enfeebled), Hammond has conceded that any transitional arrangement would end by June 2022 (the scheduled date of the next election) and most MPs are prepared to accept single market withdrawal. The prospect of Britain avoiding Brexit, or even a "hard" version, remains doubtful. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.