Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. If this stand-off deepens, Labour and the unions face disaster (Daily Telegraph)

Trade union leaders will have to accept that Ed Miliband is their best and only hope, writes Mary Riddell.

2. The US economy is built on sand (Financial Times)

Washington could do much to place the recovery on firmer foundations, says Robin Harding.

3. The west mustn’t be fooled by this mad plan (Times)

A deal to hand over his chemical weapons could leave Assad in power for years, says Roger Boyes.

4. Five years on, are we finally recovering from Lehmans? (Independent)

It was a grave mistake not to rescue the investment bank in 2008, says Hamish McRae. 

5. How to bring brains together – at top speed (Times)

When Manchester to Nottingham, say, is like a Tube ride away, we will gain huge economic advantages, writes Daniel Finkelstein.

6. We must stand up for the BBC (Guardian)

The corporation is truly a public good. Its ownership and governance should be put beyond doubt, writes Tessa Jowell.

7. Once the west set out to conquer the world. Those days have gone for ever (Independent)

A series of defeats have done for colonialism, and its more virulent form, imperialism, says Andreas Whittam Smith. 

8. Labour's links with the unions are its greatest asset (Guardian)

The TUC speaks for mainstream Britain, writes Seumas Milne. The sooner Miliband digs himself out of this hole, the better for his party.

9. Our IT future is now hi-tech, not high farce (Daily Telegraph)

The days of wasting billions of pounds on government computing are finally at an end, says Rohan Silva. 

In high-speed rail as in war, when Cameron and Osborne take refuge in the flag it is a safe bet they know they have lost, says Simon Jenkins. 

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