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.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn turns "the nasty party" back on Theresa May

The Labour leader exploited Conservative splits over disability benefits.

It didn't take long for Theresa May to herald the Conservatives' Copeland by-election victory at PMQs (and one couldn't blame her). But Jeremy Corbyn swiftly brought her down to earth. The Labour leader denounced the government for "sneaking out" its decision to overrule a court judgement calling for Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) to be extended to those with severe mental health problems.

Rather than merely expressing his own outrage, Corbyn drew on that of others. He smartly quoted Tory backbencher Heidi Allen, one of the tax credit rebels, who has called on May to "think agan" and "honour" the court's rulings. The Prime Minister protested that the government was merely returning PIPs to their "original intention" and was already spending more than ever on those with mental health conditions. But Corbyn had more ammunition, denouncing Conservative policy chair George Freeman for his suggestion that those "taking pills" for anxiety aren't "really disabled". After May branded Labour "the nasty party" in her conference speech, Corbyn suggested that the Tories were once again worthy of her epithet.

May emphasised that Freeman had apologised and, as so often, warned that the "extra support" promised by Labour would be impossible without the "strong economy" guaranteed by the Conservatives. "The one thing we know about Labour is that they would bankrupt Britain," she declared. Unlike on previous occasions, Corbyn had a ready riposte, reminding the Tories that they had increased the national debt by more than every previous Labour government.

But May saved her jibe of choice for the end, recalling shadow cabinet minister Cat Smith's assertion that the Copeland result was an "incredible achivement" for her party. "I think that word actually sums up the Right Honourable Gentleman's leadership. In-cred-ible," May concluded, with a rather surreal Thatcher-esque flourish.

Yet many economists and EU experts say the same of her Brexit plan. Having repeatedly hailed the UK's "strong economy" (which has so far proved resilient), May had better hope that single market withdrawal does not wreck it. But on Brexit, as on disability benefits, it is Conservative rebels, not Corbyn, who will determine her fate.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.