Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Think they can't axe David Cameron? Don't bet on it (Daily Mail)

If the Prime Minister's refusal to change policies looks like bringing certain defeat, the Tories will dump him, writes Simon Heffer.

2. Britain should lead in Europe, not leave it (Financial Times)

Isolation would make us weaker and poorer, writes Michael Heseltine.

3. Signs of Recovery (Times)

Data suggests evidence of an upturn, notes a Times leader. The government must ease the conditions for investment-led growth.

4. Prince Charles is a danger to democracy – even when I agree with him (Guardian)

I support Charles's views on climate change, but still believe he should stay silent – as the Queen probably does, says Peter Wilby.

5. The Syrian dilemma: inch by inch, the west gets involved in an internecine civil war (Independent)

Even if there is a breakthrough, Jabhat al-Nusra and its allies have stated clearly that they will have no truck with negotiations, writes Kim Sengupta.

6. Raised voices do not convince me on Europe (Times)

It is hard to share the certainties of either side in the in-out argument, writes Matthew Parris. We don’t-knows deserve better.

7. David Cameron would like to forget gay marriage, but it will haunt him (Daily Telegraph)

The coalition alters mankind’s most important social structure at its peril, writes Charles Moore.

8. Labour and coalition: Talking time (Guardian)

It is not too early to hope that some better preparatory work than last time is already in train, not least on the personal level, says a Guardian editorial.

9. Don’t get cross about the old man's network - get even (Daily Telegraph)

Instead of resenting the injustice of internships, maximise a child's chances by teaching them to read and write, says Graeme Archer.

10. Proof that leaders need to look the part (Financial Times)

We expect successful people to be attractive, writes Tim Harford.

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Can Philip Hammond save the Conservatives from public anger at their DUP deal?

The Chancellor has the wriggle room to get close to the DUP's spending increase – but emotion matters more than facts in politics.

The magic money tree exists, and it is growing in Northern Ireland. That’s the attack line that Labour will throw at Theresa May in the wake of her £1bn deal with the DUP to keep her party in office.

It’s worth noting that while £1bn is a big deal in terms of Northern Ireland’s budget – just a touch under £10bn in 2016/17 – as far as the total expenditure of the British government goes, it’s peanuts.

The British government spent £778bn last year – we’re talking about spending an amount of money in Northern Ireland over the course of two years that the NHS loses in pen theft over the course of one in England. To match the increase in relative terms, you’d be looking at a £35bn increase in spending.

But, of course, political arguments are about gut instinct rather than actual numbers. The perception that the streets of Antrim are being paved by gold while the public realm in England, Scotland and Wales falls into disrepair is a real danger to the Conservatives.

But the good news for them is that last year Philip Hammond tweaked his targets to give himself greater headroom in case of a Brexit shock. Now the Tories have experienced a shock of a different kind – a Corbyn shock. That shock was partly due to the Labour leader’s good campaign and May’s bad campaign, but it was also powered by anger at cuts to schools and anger among NHS workers at Jeremy Hunt’s stewardship of the NHS. Conservative MPs have already made it clear to May that the party must not go to the country again while defending cuts to school spending.

Hammond can get to slightly under that £35bn and still stick to his targets. That will mean that the DUP still get to rave about their higher-than-average increase, while avoiding another election in which cuts to schools are front-and-centre. But whether that deprives Labour of their “cuts for you, but not for them” attack line is another question entirely. 

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.

0800 7318496