Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. George Osborne should stick to his job and leave politicking to others (Daily Telegraph)

The Chancellor has enough to do trying to save the economy from impending disaster, says Peter Oborne.

2. The lesson from Eastleigh is simple: the Conservative leadership has lost control of the party (Independent)

A new assertiveness at local level is changing the dynamics of Westminster, writes Steve Richards.

3. Now we know why it was right to invade Iraq (Times)

Ten years after the war began, the country is more secure and democratic, argues David Aaronovitch. The alternative was Syria on steroids.

4. Should one man take the blame for Mid Staffs? (Daily Telegraph)

Calls for the resignation of Sir David Nicholson, the NHS boss, raise profound questions about how we are governed, writes Sue Cameron.

5. Creationist free schools are an abuse - ancient ignorance has no place in education (Independent)

Young minds are primed by nature to believe most of what adults tell them to believe, writes A. C. Grayling. They should be treated with respect, not twisted into shapes that conform with dogma.

6. Europe takes its bite from the City (Financial Times)

Business may switch to New York or Hong Kong to evade EU rules, writes John Gapper.

7. I wish more of us shared the PM's pride in Empire (Daily Mail)

We have turned from being an optimistic, dynamic, outward-looking country to a narrow, introspective and unconfident one, says Stephen Glover.

8. Heroin chic's gone, but the curse of the catwalk remains (Guardian)

Size zero may have made way for 'space farmers' at London Fashion Week, yet the exploitation of vulnerable girls continues, writes Zoe Williams.

9. UK energy policy restricts growth (Financial Times)

Britain needs to get capital flowing into power, says Richard Lambert.

10. Europe: the Right Italy (Guardian)

At one end of the continent Italy is playing with fire, at the other, Britain is doing the same, says a Guardian editorial. 

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Richmond is a wake-up call for Labour's Brexit strategy

No one made Labour stand in Richmond Park. 

Oh, Labour Party. There was a way through.

No one made you stand in Richmond Park. You could have "struck a blow against the government", you could have shared the Lib Dem success. Instead, you lost both your dignity and your deposit. And to cap it all (Christian Wolmar, take a bow) you self-nominated for a Nobel Prize for Mansplaining.

It’s like the party strategist is locked in the bowels of HQ, endlessly looping in reverse Olivia Newton John’s "Making a Good Thing Better".

And no one can think that today marks the end of the party’s problems on Brexit.

But the thing is: there’s no need to Labour on. You can fix it.

Set the government some tests. Table some amendments: “The government shall negotiate having regard to…”

  • What would be good for our economy (boost investment, trade and jobs).
  • What would enhance fairness (help individuals and communities who have missed out over the last decades).
  • What would deliver sovereignty (magnify our democratic control over our destiny).
  • What would improve finances (what Brexit makes us better off, individually and collectively). 

And say that, if the government does not meet those tests, the Labour party will not support the Article 50 deal. You’ll take some pain today – but no matter, the general election is not for years. And if the tests are well crafted they will be easy to defend.

Then wait for the negotiations to conclude. If in 2019, Boris Johnson returns bearing cake for all, if the tests are achieved, Labour will, and rightly, support the government’s Brexit deal. There will be no second referendum. And MPs in Leave voting constituencies will bear no Brexit penalty at the polls.

But if he returns with thin gruel? If the economy has tanked, if inflation is rising and living standards have slumped, and the deficit has ballooned – what then? The only winners will be door manufacturers. Across the country they will be hard at work replacing those kicked down at constituency offices by voters demanding a fix. Labour will be joined in rejecting the deal from all across the floor: Labour will have shown the way.

Because the party reads the electorate today as wanting Brexit, it concludes it must deliver it. But, even for those who think a politician’s job is to channel the electorate, this thinking discloses an error in logic. The task is not to read the political dynamic of today. It is to position itself for the dynamic when it matters - at the next general election

And by setting some economic tests for a good Brexit, Labour can buy an option on that for free.

An earlier version of this argument appeared on Jolyon Maugham's blog Waiting For Tax.

Jolyon Maugham is a barrister who advised Ed Miliband on tax policy. He blogs at Waiting for Tax, and writes for the NS on tax and legal issues.