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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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.