Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Looking for a party funding scandal? Try David Cameron's Conservatives (Guardian)

We know how much Unite gives Labour, but finding out who writes the cheques for Conservative Central Office is more difficult, writes Aditya Chakrabortty.

2. The question Ed Miliband has to answer: whose side are you on? (Daily Telegraph)

Like Blair before him, the Labour leader must show he’s in favour of choice and standards, says Benedict Brogan.

3. Yes, Labour's selection process has been abused, but not by the unions (Guardian)

 It is time the spotlight was turned on the right wing of the party, who have used parliamentary seats as patronage for too long, says Len McCluskey.

4. Freedom and democracy can become enemies (Financial Times)

Key members of Egypt’s liberal movement supported the ouster of the country’s first democratically elected president, writes Gideon Rachman.

5. Labour needs the unions, but both need members (Guardian)

Falkirk is a tragedy for unionism, which suffers the same affliction as political parties do: empty democracy, writes Polly Toynbee.

6. The barons are dead. Long live the rank and file! (Times)

Ed Miliband’s plan to pass power from union leaders to individual members would be a bold and welcome step, writes Rachel Sylvester.

7. Lots of Conservative Party members prefer Ukip's policies (Daily Telegraph)

A study into who might change allegiance - and why - makes uncomfortable reading for the PM, say Tim Bale and Paul Webb. 

8. Yes, people in large homes should pay more tax (Times)

People who grew rich from property rises should help those who didn’t, says James Bloodworth.

9. The mess with Labour and the unions makes this the perfect time to let the state fund political parties (Independent)

If the lack of respect for MPs is what prevents taxpayers stumping up, this lack owes a lot to the present system, says Donald Macintyre.

10. Miliband must renounce more than Unite’s tactics (Financial Times)

The Labour leader’s task is to show voters that he would not govern how Len McCluskey desires, says Janan Ganesh.

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Forget gaining £350m a week, Brexit would cost the UK £300m a week

Figures from the government's own Office for Budget Responsibility reveal the negative economic impact Brexit would have. 

Even now, there are some who persist in claiming that Boris Johnson's use of the £350m a week figure was accurate. The UK's gross, as opposed to net EU contribution, is precisely this large, they say. Yet this ignores that Britain's annual rebate (which reduced its overall 2016 contribution to £252m a week) is not "returned" by Brussels but, rather, never leaves Britain to begin with. 

Then there is the £4.1bn that the government received from the EU in public funding, and the £1.5bn allocated directly to British organisations. Fine, the Leavers say, the latter could be better managed by the UK after Brexit (with more for the NHS and less for agriculture).

But this entire discussion ignores that EU withdrawal is set to leave the UK with less, rather than more, to spend. As Carl Emmerson, the deputy director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, notes in a letter in today's Times: "The bigger picture is that the forecast health of the public finances was downgraded by £15bn per year - or almost £300m per week - as a direct result of the Brexit vote. Not only will we not regain control of £350m weekly as a result of Brexit, we are likely to make a net fiscal loss from it. Those are the numbers and forecasts which the government has adopted. It is perhaps surprising that members of the government are suggesting rather different figures."

The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts, to which Emmerson refers, are shown below (the £15bn figure appearing in the 2020/21 column).

Some on the right contend that a blitz of tax cuts and deregulation following Brexit would unleash  higher growth. But aside from the deleterious economic and social consequences that could result, there is, as I noted yesterday, no majority in parliament or in the country for this course. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.