Morning Call:pick of the papers

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

1. Israel and Palestine's leaders - and cheerleaders - have failed them again (Guardian)

Jonathan Freedland gives eloquent voice to the despair of those who prefer not treat Middle East conflict as a platform to rehearse old tribal positions. 

2. The press should hug the Leveson report in a grim embrace of welcome (Telegraph)

Newspapers are reacting to the idea of regulation like bolshie shop stewards in the early 80s, writes Charles Moore.

3. Church and state must loosen their bonds (Times)

Matthew Parris sees 'limited and piecemeal' disestablishment as the only plausible way forward for the Church of England.

4. Everyone's a winner in Brussels (Independent)

Leading article sees the bright side of an EU summit failure to get a budget deal.

5. Bright idea that may end up costing more (FT)

'Undercover Economist' Tim Harford unpicks the government's energy tariff reform plans.

6. Why Cameron will regret his 'fruitcakes and loonies' insult (Daily Mail)

Simon Heffer sees Ukip as a sanctuary for authentic Tories chased away from their party by David Cameron.

7. Morsi's mistake (FT)

Leading article urges Egypt's president to reverse power-grabbing, anti-democratic decree.

8. The 'nutrition gap' between Britain's rich and poor is vast - and wicked (Guardian)

The reasons are complex, but it is still a disgrace that healthy eating is the preserve of the well-off, writes Ian Jack

9. The BBC can get out of this hole (Telegraph)

Former Director General Greg Dyke gives his tuppence worth on the problems with BBC governance.

10. End the loneliness of the long-running life (Times)

Other countries are well ahead of the UK in understanding the civilised way to grow old, writes Janice Turner.

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Can Philip Hammond save the Conservatives from public anger at their DUP deal?

The Chancellor has the wriggle room to get close to the DUP's spending increase – but emotion matters more than facts in politics.

The magic money tree exists, and it is growing in Northern Ireland. That’s the attack line that Labour will throw at Theresa May in the wake of her £1bn deal with the DUP to keep her party in office.

It’s worth noting that while £1bn is a big deal in terms of Northern Ireland’s budget – just a touch under £10bn in 2016/17 – as far as the total expenditure of the British government goes, it’s peanuts.

The British government spent £778bn last year – we’re talking about spending an amount of money in Northern Ireland over the course of two years that the NHS loses in pen theft over the course of one in England. To match the increase in relative terms, you’d be looking at a £35bn increase in spending.

But, of course, political arguments are about gut instinct rather than actual numbers. The perception that the streets of Antrim are being paved by gold while the public realm in England, Scotland and Wales falls into disrepair is a real danger to the Conservatives.

But the good news for them is that last year Philip Hammond tweaked his targets to give himself greater headroom in case of a Brexit shock. Now the Tories have experienced a shock of a different kind – a Corbyn shock. That shock was partly due to the Labour leader’s good campaign and May’s bad campaign, but it was also powered by anger at cuts to schools and anger among NHS workers at Jeremy Hunt’s stewardship of the NHS. Conservative MPs have already made it clear to May that the party must not go to the country again while defending cuts to school spending.

Hammond can get to slightly under that £35bn and still stick to his targets. That will mean that the DUP still get to rave about their higher-than-average increase, while avoiding another election in which cuts to schools are front-and-centre. But whether that deprives Labour of their “cuts for you, but not for them” attack line is another question entirely. 

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.

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