Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The badger cull is no black-and-white issue (Telegraph)

The badger cull gets under way in two pilot areas - but there are huge questions about how effective and humane the mass killing will be, writes Geoffrey Lean

2. Why weird science is all in a day’s work (FT)

Stories of the formula for the perfect penalty kick are cheaper than ads, writes Tim Harford

3. How to tackle the EDL (Guardian)

Those wondering how to respond to English Defence League marches this weekend can look to the example of tea and non-confrontation we set at York mosque, writes Mohamed El-Gomati

4. Fiendish plots are a-hatching in Watford (Telegraph)

It's joy for conspiracy theorists as the Bilderberg Group meets again, says Matthew Norman

5. I celebrate the 'fuck you' behind Pussy Riot's eyes (Guardian)

As Maria Alyokhina's hunger strike continues, her strength inspires others as much as it scares the Russian state, writes Romola Garai

6. I want a little domestic dignitas (Telegraph)

When it comes to dying there’s no place like home, says Vicki Woods

 

7. Ministers who misuse statistics to mislead voters must pay the price (Guardian)

Politicians resign for fake expenses or receiving favours, but not for making false statements. They should be punished, writes Peter Wilby

8. America’s economy is about to take off (FT)

Things can still go wrong, but 2014 should be a year of greater cheer, writes Robin Harding

9. Nothing wrong with a revolving door (FT)

Critics of the former HMRC chief’s new role should not excoriate him, writes Howard Davies

10. Tories could solve Ukip puzzle in Brighton (Telegraph)

The city by the sea is just the place for a Tory revival, says Graeme Archer

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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.