Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Does the Tory party actually want to win the next election? (Observer)

An 'alternative Queen's speech' by rightwingers illustrates David Cameron's enduring problems with his MPs, argues Andrew Rawnsley.

2. With Middle Eastern moderates like these, who needs extremists? (Sunday Times) (£)

In relation to the Iranian elections, he word of the week is “moderate”, says Dominic Lawson.

3. Recovery means... dumping Labour policies (Independent on Sunday)

Protected by the amulet of Saint Clem, Ed Miliband could go on to bury John Maynard Keynes, says John Rentoul.

4. George Osborne's spending review should focus on boosting growth and living standards (Sunday Mirror)

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls explains how growth now would head off deeper cuts in 2015.

5. You may laugh at 'Jeffrey’, but he’s won the argument (Sunday Telegraph)

George Osborne has defined the rules of the game and the terms of the debate, writes Matthew d'Ancona.

6. Blame austerity, not old people, for the plight of Britain's young (Observer)

We have to refashion our economic model so that it works for everyone – particularly the young, says Will Hutton.

7. It’s dangerous to ignore the bridesmaids, PM (Sunday Times) (£)

No 10's female staff are treated more like admirers than advisers, writes Adam Boulton.

8. A little interference is a wonderful thing (Independent on Sunday)

The Government's sudden desire to make new rules and enforce old ones is overdue, writes D J Taylor.

9. Scotland's an enlightened country – unless you're female (Observer)

Scotland beats England in its compassionate ways. Just a shame about the misogyny, writes Kevin McKenna.

10. Back together: me, Fatboy Slim and the rest of the Upwardly Mobile Gang (Sunday Times) (£)

I became a grammar-school boy — and it will never leave me, says Andrew Sullivan.

 

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PMQs review: Theresa May shows how her confidence has grown

After her Brexit speech, the PM declared of Jeremy Corbyn: "I've got a plan - he doesn't have a clue". 

The woman derided as “Theresa Maybe” believes she has neutralised that charge. Following her Brexit speech, Theresa May cut a far more confident figure at today's PMQs. Jeremy Corbyn inevitably devoted all six of his questions to Europe but failed to land a definitive blow.

He began by denouncing May for “sidelining parliament” at the very moment the UK was supposedly reclaiming sovereignty (though he yesterday praised her for guaranteeing MPs would get a vote). “It’s not so much the Iron Lady as the irony lady,” he quipped. But May, who has sometimes faltered against Corbyn, had a ready retort. The Labour leader, she noted, had denounced the government for planning to leave the single market while simultaneously seeking “access” to it. Yet “access”, she went on, was precisely what Corbyn had demanded (seemingly having confused it with full membership). "I've got a plan - he doesn't have a clue,” she declared.

When Corbyn recalled May’s economic warnings during the referendum (“Does she now disagree with herself?”), the PM was able to reply: “I said if we voted to leave the EU the sky would not fall in and look at what has happened to our economic situation since we voted to leave the EU”.

Corbyn’s subsequent question on whether May would pay for single market access was less wounding than it might have been because she has consistently refused to rule out budget contributions (though yesterday emphasised that the days of “vast” payments were over).

When the Labour leader ended by rightly hailing the contribution immigrants made to public services (“The real pressure on public services comes from a government that slashed billions”), May took full opportunity of the chance to have the last word, launching a full-frontal attack on his leadership and a defence of hers. “There is indeed a difference - when I look at the issue of Brexit or any other issues like the NHS or social care, I consider the issue, I set out my plan and I stick to it. It's called leadership, he should try it some time.”

For May, life will soon get harder. Once Article 50 is triggered, it is the EU 27, not the UK, that will take back control (the withdrawal agreement must be approved by at least 72 per cent of member states). With MPs now guaranteed a vote on the final outcome, parliament will also reassert itself. But for now, May can reflect with satisfaction on her strengthened position.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.