Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. After Woolwich, don't ban hate speech, counter it. Hate it, too (Guardian)

Facing Islamist violence, the British home secretary, like her counterparts in Europe, wrongly reaches for censorship, writes Timothy Garton Ash. 

2. Cameron the new Major? Don't buy that myth (Independent)

The current issue for the Conservatives is discordance rather than disunity, says Steve Richards.

3. I'm used to the left fibbing about 'savage' cuts. But the mystery is why Mr Osborne is playing the same game (Daily Mail)

The claim that the deficit has been brought down by a third is is not borne out by a fair-minded examination of the figures, writes Stephen Glover. 

4. Who will cut up rough in Star Chamber? (Daily Telegraph)

All sides will be busy rehearsing their arguments and even deciding the order in which the Star Chamber judges should speak, writes Sue Cameron.

5. Russia the paranoid bully must be confronted (Times)

It’s easier for Britain to turn away – but it must mitigate the malign effects of Putinism, especially in Syria, says David Aaronovitch.

6. Worry about the jobs revolving door (Financial Times)

It is becoming usual for public servants to cash in by taking private-sector posts, writes John Gapper.

7. The whiff of suspicion over the Chilcot Inquiry grows stronger (Daily Telegraph)

Lord Owen is right to raise questions about a conspiracy of silence following the Iraq war, says Peter Oborne.

8. David Cameron’s circle of friends is shrinking (Daily Telegraph)

The Prime Minister has surprisingly few friends, and plenty of colleagues waiting for him to fail, says James Kirkup.

9. Boris the hare should beware the tortoises (Times)

When it comes to their next leader, the Tories MPs who still miss Margaret Thatcher may well choose a woman, writes Isabel Hardman.

10. French battle is over more than marriage (Financial Times)

The issue of same-sex union reflects deep anxiety over the country’s future, writes Mark Mazower.

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Beware, hard Brexiteers - Ruth Davidson is coming for you

The Scottish Conservative leader is well-positioned to fight. 

Wanted: Charismatic leader with working-class roots and a populist touch who can take on the Brexiteers, including some in the government, and do so convincingly.

Enter Ruth Davidson. 

While many Tory MPs quietly share her opposition to a hard Brexit, those who dare to be loud tend to be backbenchers like Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan. 

By contrast, the Scottish Conservative leader already has huge credibility for rebuilding her party north of the border. Her appearances in the last days of the EU referendum campaign made her a star in the south as well. And she has no qualms about making a joke at Boris Johnson’s expense

Speaking at the Institute of Directors on Monday, Davidson said Brexiteers like Nigel Farage should stop “needling” European leaders.

“I say to the Ukip politicians, when they chuckle and bray about the result in June, grow up,” she declared. “Let us show a bit more respect for these European neighbours and allies.”

Davidson is particularly concerned that Brexiteers underestimate the deeply emotional and political response of other EU nations. 

The negotiations will be 27 to 1, she pointed out: “I would suggest that macho, beer swilling, posturing at the golf club bar isn’t going to get us anywhere.”

At a time when free trade is increasingly a dirty word, Davidson is also striking in her defence of the single market. As a child, she recalls, every plate of food on the table was there because her father, a self-made businessman, had "made stuff and sold it abroad". 

She attacked the Daily Mail for its front cover branding the judges who ruled against the government’s bid to trigger Article 50 “enemies of the people”. 

When the headline was published, Theresa May and Cabinet ministers stressed the freedom of the press. By contrast, Davidson, a former journalist, said that to undermine “the guardians of our democracy” in this way was “an utter disgrace”. 

Davidson might have chosen Ukip and the Daily Mail to skewer, but her attacks could apply to certain Brexiteers in her party as well. 

When The Staggers enquired whether this included the Italy-baiting Foreign Secretary Johnson, she launched a somewhat muted defence.

Saying she was “surprised by the way Boris has taken to the job”, she added: “To be honest, when you have got such a big thing happening and when you have a team in place that has been doing the preparatory work, it doesn’t make sense to reshuffle the benches."

Nevertheless, despite her outsider role, the team matters to Davidson. Part of her electoral success in Scotland is down the way she has capitalised on the anti-independence feeling after the Scottish referendum. If the UK heads for a hard Brexit, she too will have to fend off accusations that her party is the party of division. 

Indeed, for all her jibes at the Brexiteers, Davidson has a serious message. Since the EU referendum, she is “beginning to see embryos of where Scotland has gone post-referendum”. And, she warned: “I do not think we want that division.”

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.