Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. A Mitt Romney win would merely reward Republicans for bad behaviour (Guardian)

Obama's presidency may have been too timid, but let's not forget who's been responsible for the US's political gridlock, says Gary Younge.

2. Obama is the wiser bet for crisis-hit US (Financial Times)

There remains a need for intelligent, reformist US governance, says an FT editorial. Obama looks the better choice.

3. Vote Mitt: the world needs this deal-maker (Times) (£)

Obama has proved that he can’t reach across party lines, says Tim Montgomerie.

4. If only we had a real choice like America (Daily Mail)

While Obama and Romney offer two entirely different visions of the US's future, our parties have become ever more similar, writes Simon Heffer.

5. The Tories are emasculating the Equality and Human Rights Commission (Independent)

The government is attempting to frame human rights and equality as a fringe concern, but these are issues that should matter to us all, writes Yasmin Alibhai Brown.

6. We’re on our way out of EU but PM must rein in the rebels (Sun)

Britain is surely heading for the EU exit, but it cannot afford to be blamed for bringing the roof down as it goes, says Trevor Kavanagh.

7. Labour must not let Britain drift into a European exit (Guardian)

After last week's political opportunism, Ed Miliband has to ensure his party counters the nation's growing anti-EU sentiment, writes Jackie Ashley.

8. The Taliban's main fear is not drones but educated girls (Guardian)

If Pakistan really wants to combat the fundamentalists, it should be protecting its children and their teachers, writes Mohammed Hanif.

9. There is no place for French-style protectionism in UK (Financial Times)

France’s approach to takeovers has not helped its economy, writes Geoff Owen.

10. Listen up, Mitt – because I’ve got the key to the White House (Daily Telegraph)

Planet Earth is rooting for Obama, but his rival can change that with one simple gesture, writes Boris Johnson.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

Voters are turning against Brexit but the Lib Dems aren't benefiting

Labour's pro-Brexit stance is not preventing it from winning the support of Remainers. Will that change?

More than a year after the UK voted for Brexit, there has been little sign of buyer's remorse. The public, including around a third of Remainers, are largely of the view that the government should "get on with it".

But as real wages are squeezed (owing to the Brexit-linked inflationary spike) there are tentative signs that the mood is changing. In the event of a second referendum, an Opinium/Observer poll found, 47 per cent would vote Remain, compared to 44 per cent for Leave. Support for a repeat vote is also increasing. Forty one per cent of the public now favour a second referendum (with 48 per cent opposed), compared to 33 per cent last December. 

The Liberal Democrats have made halting Brexit their raison d'être. But as public opinion turns, there is no sign they are benefiting. Since the election, Vince Cable's party has yet to exceed single figures in the polls, scoring a lowly 6 per cent in the Opinium survey (down from 7.4 per cent at the election). 

What accounts for this disparity? After their near-extinction in 2015, the Lib Dems remain either toxic or irrelevant to many voters. Labour, by contrast, despite its pro-Brexit stance, has hoovered up Remainers (55 per cent back Jeremy Corbyn's party). 

In some cases, this reflects voters' other priorities. Remainers are prepared to support Labour on account of the party's stances on austerity, housing and education. Corbyn, meanwhile, is a eurosceptic whose internationalism and pro-migration reputation endear him to EU supporters. Other Remainers rewarded Labour MPs who voted against Article 50, rebelling against the leadership's stance. 

But the trend also partly reflects ignorance. By saying little on the subject of Brexit, Corbyn and Labour allowed Remainers to assume the best. Though there is little evidence that voters will abandon Corbyn over his EU stance, the potential exists.

For this reason, the proposal of a new party will continue to recur. By challenging Labour over Brexit, without the toxicity of Lib Dems, it would sharpen the choice before voters. Though it would not win an election, a new party could force Corbyn to soften his stance on Brexit or to offer a second referendum (mirroring Ukip's effect on the Conservatives).

The greatest problem for the project is that it lacks support where it counts: among MPs. For reasons of tribalism and strategy, there is no emergent "Gang of Four" ready to helm a new party. In the absence of a new convulsion, the UK may turn against Brexit without the anti-Brexiteers benefiting. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.