Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Britain is betraying its values in its response to the Egyptian coup (Daily Telegraph)

William Hague can't tell the truth about Morsi's departure for fear of upsetting the US, writes Peter Oborne.

2. Voters are disdainful of politics and will not pay for state funding of parties (Independent)

Last week it was Ed at bay in PMQs, now it’s Cameron, writes Steve Richards. Both leaders are vulnerable over party funding.

3. Miliband is emerging as the true heir to Blair (Daily Telegraph)

By moving to loosen Labour's links to the unions, the leader is gambling everything, says John McTernan.

4. Why women part-timers should be full-time ball-breakers (Guardian)

Sexism probably explains the low status of working mothers, writes Zoe Williams. But it's also their reluctance to assert what a blessing their hours are.

5. Political Islam faces its sternest test (Financial Times)

There is no evidence that Arabs believe Wahhabism is the future, says David Gardner.

6. Wisdom or piffle, we've a right to see what 'Disgusted of Highgrove' writes to ministers (Daily Mail)

The public has an interest in knowing how, and where, Prince Charles has tried to exercise influence, says Stephen Glover.

7. There’s no cure to the health spending paradox (Times)

At the same time as it gets cheaper to do IVF or cataracts, our constant innovations will inevitably push up budgets, writes Matt Ridley.

8. Can Ed Miliband give England a political voice at last? (Guardian)

The English identity is much more complex and progressive than the saloon-bar Farageism it is too often depicted as, writes Martin Kettle.

9. I want to be greener. But does the government? (Independent)

When it came into office in 2010, the "greenest government ever" promised to boost the use of low and zero emission vehicles, writes Jane Merrick. But take up is a painfully slow crawl.

10. Welcome to the geopolitics of trade, where Dr Pangloss meets Machiavelli (Guardian)

For the sake of Britain's own unemployed, we need a new transatlantic trade deal, writes Timothy Garton Ash. But not so we can also gang up on China.

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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn prompts Tory outrage as he blames Grenfell Tower fire on austerity

To Conservative cries of "shame on you!", the Labour leader warned that "we all pay a price in public safety" for spending cuts.

A fortnight after the Grenfell Tower fire erupted, the tragedy continues to cast a shadow over British politics. Rather than probing Theresa May on the DUP deal, Jeremy Corbyn asked a series of forensic questions on the incident, in which at least 79 people are confirmed to have died.

In the first PMQs of the new parliament, May revealed that the number of buildings that had failed fire safety tests had risen to 120 (a 100 per cent failure rate) and that the cladding used on Grenfell Tower was "non-compliant" with building regulations (Corbyn had asked whether it was "legal").

After several factual questions, the Labour leader rose to his political argument. To cries of "shame on you!" from Tory MPs, he warned that local authority cuts of 40 per cent meant "we all pay a price in public safety". Corbyn added: “What the tragedy of Grenfell Tower has exposed is the disastrous effects of austerity. The disregard for working-class communities, the terrible consequences of deregulation and cutting corners." Corbyn noted that 11,000 firefighters had been cut and that the public sector pay cap (which Labour has tabled a Queen's Speech amendment against) was hindering recruitment. "This disaster must be a wake-up call," he concluded.

But May, who fared better than many expected, had a ready retort. "The cladding of tower blocks did not start under this government, it did not start under the previous coalition governments, the cladding of tower blocks began under the Blair government," she said. “In 2005 it was a Labour government that introduced the regulatory reform fire safety order which changed the requirements to inspect a building on fire safety from the local fire authority to a 'responsible person'." In this regard, however, Corbyn's lack of frontbench experience is a virtue – no action by the last Labour government can be pinned on him. 

Whether or not the Conservatives accept the link between Grenfell and austerity, their reluctance to defend continued cuts shows an awareness of how politically vulnerable they have become (No10 has announced that the public sector pay cap is under review).

Though Tory MP Philip Davies accused May of having an "aversion" to policies "that might be popular with the public" (he demanded the abolition of the 0.7 per cent foreign aid target), there was little dissent from the backbenches – reflecting the new consensus that the Prime Minister is safe (in the absence of an attractive alternative).

And May, whose jokes sometimes fall painfully flat, was able to accuse Corbyn of saying "one thing to the many and another thing to the few" in reference to his alleged Trident comments to Glastonbury festival founder Michael Eavis. But the Labour leader, no longer looking fearfully over his shoulder, displayed his increased authority today. Though the Conservatives may jeer him, the lingering fear in Tory minds is that they and the country are on divergent paths. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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