Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The Middle East faces years of disorder (Financial Times)

Arabs have concluded that if the US is quitting, they had better start fighting their own corners, writes Philip Stephens.

2. Labour should join Justin Welby's war on Wonga (Guardian)

The party should join faith groups to help the archbishop of Canterbury in his fight against usury, writes Maurice Glasman.

3. The royals are not like us. But they should be (Times)

Prince George’s birth is no time for republican arguments, writes Philip Collins. But it does show the need for a stripped-down monarchy.

4. The master strategist with the common touch (Daily Telegraph)

The rage directed at the Tories’ political strategist is a sure sign that he's doing his job well, says John McTernan.

5. At last, George Osborne has got in touch with his inner Keynes (Guardian)

With his buy-to-let scheme the chancellor is finally pumping cash to a more productive place than bank vaults, writes Simon Jenkins. 

6. Airy-fairy Lib Dems must face life outside the goldfish bowl (Daily Telegraph)

Clegg and his colleagues are trying their best to persuade activists to adopt a more grown-up approach to policy, writes Isabel Hardman.

7. Bo Xilai and how the mighty of China have fallen (Independent)

So many flowers of hubris and ambition are entwined in this story of China's communist aristocracy that it is hard to know what moral to draw from it, writes Peter Popham.

8. Growth must reach the north and low-earners (Times)

We must not return to the unbalanced British economy of the pre-crash years, writes George Osborne

9. Don’t blame the best-paid 1 per cent – they’re worth it (Daily Telegraph)

The wealthy have never forked out more and the lower-paid half of the populace have never had to pay a smaller share of income tax, writes Fraser Nelson.

10. No women over 50 allowed (unless it's Helen Mirren) (Guardian)

A generation of women is being bundled out of jobs at an alarming rate, and the world of work gets more insane as a result, writes Polly Toynbee.

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What Jeremy Corbyn gets right about the single market

Technically, you can be outside the EU but inside the single market. Philosophically, you're still in the EU. 

I’ve been trying to work out what bothers me about the response to Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on the Andrew Marr programme.

What bothers me about Corbyn’s interview is obvious: the use of the phrase “wholesale importation” to describe people coming from Eastern Europe to the United Kingdom makes them sound like boxes of sugar rather than people. Adding to that, by suggesting that this “importation” had “destroy[ed] conditions”, rather than laying the blame on Britain’s under-enforced and under-regulated labour market, his words were more appropriate to a politician who believes that immigrants are objects to be scapegoated, not people to be served. (Though perhaps that is appropriate for the leader of the Labour Party if recent history is any guide.)

But I’m bothered, too, by the reaction to another part of his interview, in which the Labour leader said that Britain must leave the single market as it leaves the European Union. The response to this, which is technically correct, has been to attack Corbyn as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are members of the single market but not the European Union.

In my view, leaving the single market will make Britain poorer in the short and long term, will immediately render much of Labour’s 2017 manifesto moot and will, in the long run, be a far bigger victory for right-wing politics than any mere election. Corbyn’s view, that the benefits of freeing a British government from the rules of the single market will outweigh the costs, doesn’t seem very likely to me. So why do I feel so uneasy about the claim that you can be a member of the single market and not the European Union?

I think it’s because the difficult truth is that these countries are, de facto, in the European Union in any meaningful sense. By any estimation, the three pillars of Britain’s “Out” vote were, firstly, control over Britain’s borders, aka the end of the free movement of people, secondly, more money for the public realm aka £350m a week for the NHS, and thirdly control over Britain’s own laws. It’s hard to see how, if the United Kingdom continues to be subject to the free movement of people, continues to pay large sums towards the European Union, and continues to have its laws set elsewhere, we have “honoured the referendum result”.

None of which changes my view that leaving the single market would be a catastrophe for the United Kingdom. But retaining Britain’s single market membership starts with making the argument for single market membership, not hiding behind rhetorical tricks about whether or not single market membership was on the ballot last June, when it quite clearly was. 

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.