Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Intervention: too much of it abroad, not enough of it at home (Independent)

The mark of the liberal interventionist is a mix of faith in the state, and scepticism about it, writes Steve Richards.

2. Keep out, they say. But then comes cataclysm (Times)

If Assad, Russia and Hezbollah win the civil war in Syria, the rest of the world is likely to pay a heavy price, writes David Aaronovitch.

3. Mervyn King: goodbye to the governor (Guardian)

The British economy was in for a painful recession in 2008-09; but through his inaction, Sir Mervyn made it worse, says a Guardian editorial.

4. Britain’s banks are still a danger to the real economy (Financial Times)

Is the UK economy now protected from the City? The simple answer is no, says Chris Giles.

5. The Tories will never triumph with five chairmen at the helm (Daily Telegraph)

The party organisation is a total mess – but Boris Johnson could restore clarity, writes Peter Oborne.

6. Our love for the NHS blinds us to its failures. Morecambe Bay is yet another wake up call (Independent)

There have been too many hospital scandals where trusts promise to ‘learn the lessons’, writes Jane Merrick. 

7. Be true to yourself. Is this really the best the Guides can do for girls? (Guardian)

The schmaltzy motto embedded in the organisation's new oath is more likely to build insecure narcissism than help girls develop, writes Zoe Williams. 

8. Big Steel is a very big problem for China (Financial Times)

Wisco is a large part of an ailing, inefficient industry that Beijing appears unable to discipline, writes John Gapper.

9. Our banks are not merely out of control. They're beyond control (Guardian)

Jailing reckless bankers is a dangerously incomplete solution, says Joris Luyendijk. The market is bust. 

10. The populists reshaping Westminster politics (Daily Telegraph)

Say goodbye to the dinosaurs, people like Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, are making the weather, says Sue Cameron.

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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.