Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Cameron's speech on Europe makes it less likely he will be Prime Minister after the next election (Independent)

His position on Europe means that another coalition with the Lib Dems is impossible, says Steve Richards. Given the likelihood of another hung parliament, that spells danger for him.

2. Cameron may have finished off the Tories – but he had no choice (Daily Telegraph)

David Cameron's Conservative Party gamble over Europe has been tried before, by Labour. It fatally split the party, writes Peter Oborne.

3. By offering an in/out referendum, Cameron made Ukip stronger (Independent)

It is Ukip which will be leading the campaign for independence, says Nigel Farage.

4 Can Netanyahu survive Israel's middle-class revolt? (Guardian)

The election has given Israel a new kingmaker in Yair Lapid, writes Aluf Benn. But Binyamin Netanyahu is a master of survival.

5. From outside, it's clear why Britain has to stay in Europe (Guardian)

Cameron's speech could have been a lot worse, but five years of anxious uncertainty are bad news for Europe and the world, writes Timothy Garton Ash.

6. Davos: infotainment, not a conspiracy (Financial Times)

Most people here spend their days debating corporate social responsibility and the global economy, writes John Gapper. 

7. The speech of his life! And if the PM can follow through, he might just seal a historic triumph (Daily Mail)

Cameron fulfilled the foremost duty of a Prime Minister by articulating every anxiety felt by his people about Europe, says Max Hastings.

8. In-out EU referendum: Cameron's hokey-cokey (Guardian)

The real concern of  the PM's speech was not economics but politics – the politics of a restive Tory backbench, an insurgent Ukip and a mostly Europhobic press, says a Guardian editorial.

9. At last, voters are trusted to choose Britain’s future (Daily Telegraph)

David Cameron has given Britain a far better chance of securing a satisfactory settlement with the European Union, says a Telegraph editorial.

10. Our island must stop living in the Tudor past (Times) (£)

While we celebrate progress over Catholics and the succession we should also ask why we are so slow to change, says David Aaronovitch.

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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.