Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Michael Heseltine's on the right road – so who's going to take it? (Guardian)

The Treasury must hate the maverick former minister's report, but it should realise his ideas have deep Tory roots, says Martin Kettle.

2. The coalition can’t keep facing two ways at once on public spending (Daily Telegraph)

Agreement on reducing debt between the Conservatives and Lib Dems is vital if the government is to make it through to 2015, says Peter Oborne.

3. America Decides (Times) (£)

President Obama has lost the campaign and his record has many holes, says a Times editorial. But he has done enough to earn a second term.

4. The Commons has spoken for the nation on the EU (Daily Telegraph)

The time has come for Britain to take a stand against the profligacy of the European Commission - real-terms spending must be cut, says a Telegraph leader.

5. New York’s ascent meets the rising ocean (Financial Times)

The city is not the only global economic hub at the mercy of climate change and rising tides, writes John Gapper.

6. Britain must atone for its sins in Palestine (Daily Telegraph)

Ever since the Balfour Declaration of 1917, Britain has denied our people their rights, says Nabeel Shaath.

7. Who profits from being in care? It's not the children (Guardian)

Dumped in areas cheap enough for contractors to make a decent return, it's little wonder 'cared-for' children fail to thrive, writes Zoe Williams.

8. The tragedy of Britain is the lack of a governing class brave enough to make big decisions (Daily Mail)

Democracy shouldn’t mean buckling into noisy minorities selfishly defending their corner, writes Stephen Glover.

9. How to improve life for the 'squeezed middle' (Independent)

The onus is on the politicians to act – or explain why they will not, says an Independent leader.

10. Banking may lose its allure for the best and brightest (Financial Times)

The really stark relative shrinkage of finance might lie ahead, writes Gillian Tett.

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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.