Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Nick Clegg has served his party well and deserves to survive (Daily Telegraph)

The Lib Dems embody two contradictory factions, one of which may turn on its leader, says Peter Oborne.

2. This crisis resolves little in Syria but says a lot about the United States (Guardian)

The nation is sick and tired of foreign wars, and may never play its role of global anchor again, writes Timothy Garton Ash. We may live to regret it.

3. Take note, Ed Miliband: Starting a fight doesn’t make you strong (Independent)

I cannot understand how inciting fury is in itself an act of good leadership, says Steve Richards.

4. Politicians to blame for BBC infighting (Financial Times)

The UK’s public broadcaster has to be bold or it is pointless, says John Gapper.

5. Let's open our borders to Syria's refugees (Independent)

Britain is one of the world’s wealthiest nations, we should set an example, says Ian Birrell. 

6. Bedroom tax? It's not a policy but the product of a Bad Bullingdon Weekend (Guardian)

Did its devisers imagine a utopia without the UN, judicial review, and the state, asks Zoe Williams. They exist, and ultimately answer to voters.

7. We can’t stop the world, we can’t get off (Times)

Anti-intervention, anti-immigration, anti-aid, writes David Aaronovitch. It’s a fantasy to think we can turn our backs on the planet.

8. The great Liberal Democrat wipeout? I have a hunch it won't happen (Guardian)

Clegg's party may have to fight the equivalent of 57 Eastleighs in 2015 – but they are confident that they can defy the polls, writes Martin Kettle.

The new PM should aim for a smarter state, not radical reform, says an FT editorial.

10. Is the Foreign Office fighting for Britain? (Times)

An open letter to William Hague: your department’s EU review is a whitewash, says John Redwood.

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