Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The lesson from the US: George Osborne has wasted the last three years (Guardian)

Britain's modest recovery is weak, and benefits the richest most, writes Ed Balls. We need a One Nation economic plan.

2. A Grexit begins to look more feasible (Financial Times)

For Greece to reform and not default makes sense only from Berlin’s perspective, writes Wolfgang Münchau.

3. Britain's diversity was lauded during the Olympics. But no longer (Guardian)

There's a glaring gap between the cant we heard at last summer's Games and where Britain has subsequently arrived, writes John Harris.

4. Cruel? Certainly. Unforgivable? Beyond doubt. But the Tories aren't actually evil (Independent)

It would be easy to imagine a cabal of upper-class sadomasochists, plotting ever more devious ways to hunt children on council estates like foxes, writes Owen Jones. But it misses the point.

5. The greens can’t defy gravity. They’re finished (Times)

The cash wasted on failed global warming policies would be better spent on tackling the problems faced by the poor, says Tim Montgomerie.

6. Why David Cameron's war on internet porn doesn't make sense (Guardian)

The prime minister's so-called plan for controlling access to online pornography is a breathtaking piece of political sleight-of-hand, writes Tom Meltzer. 

7. At last! The PM'S acted over online porn. I just hope he sees it through (Daily Mail)

It is startling to find a Prime Minister acting so decisively like this against a presumed liberal consensus and in defence of orderly family values, writes Melanie Phillips. 

8. Heavier sanctions on Iran could backfire (Financial Times)

The costs of economic war would outweigh strategic benefits, say Steve Hanke and Garbis Iradian.

9. If we are going to retreat, must we grovel so shamefully as we leave? (Independent)

Now we arrive in the Middle East as smiling supplicants, blessing any “people’s change” (unless it is any monarchical autocracy of the Gulf), writes Robert Fisk.

10. Forget about trying to contain Germany – we should copy it (Daily Telegraph)

The reunification of this great nation has been one of the success stories of modern times, says Boris Johnson.

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Paul Nuttall is like his party: sad, desperate and finished

The party hope if they can survive until March 2019, they will grow strong off disillusionment with Brexit. They may not make it until then. 

It’s a measure of how far Ukip have fallen that while Theresa May faced a grilling over her social care U-Turn and Jeremy Corbyn was called to account over his past, the opening sections of Andrew Neill’s interview with Paul Nuttall was about the question of whether or not his party has a future.

The blunt truth is that Ukip faces a battering in this election. They will be blown away in the seats they have put up a candidate in and have pre-emptively retreated from numerous contests across the country.

A party whose leader in Wales once said that climate change was “ridiculous” is now the victim of climate change itself. With Britain heading out of the European Union and Theresa May in Downing Street, it’s difficult to work out what the pressing question in public life to which Ukip is the answer.

Their quest for relevance isn’t helped by Paul Nuttall, who at times tonight cast an unwittingly comic figure. Pressing his case for Ukip’s burka ban, he said earnestly: “For [CCTV] to work, you have to see people’s faces.” It was if he had intended to pick up Nigel Farage’s old dogwhistle and instead put a kazoo to his lips.

Remarks that are, written down, offensive, just carried a stench of desperation. Nuttall’s policy prescriptions – a noun, a verb, and the most rancid comment underneath a Mail article – came across as a cry for attention. Small wonder that senior figures in Ukip expect Nuttall to face a move on his position, though they also expect that he will see off any attempt to remove him from his crown.

But despite his poor performance, Ukip might not be dead yet. There was a gleam of strategy amid the froth from Nuttall in the party’s pledge to oppose any continuing payment to Brussels as part of the Brexit deal, something that May and Corbyn have yet to rule out.

If May does manage to make it back to Downing Street on 8 June, the gap between campaign rhetoric – we’ll have the best Brexit, France will pay for it – and government policy – we’ll pay a one-off bill and continuing contributions if need be – will be fertile territory for Ukip, if they can survive as a going concern politically and financially, until March 2019.

On tonight’s performance, they’ll need a better centre-forward than Paul Nuttall if they are to make it that far. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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