Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The farce of the Hinkley C nuclear reactor will haunt Britain for decades (Guardian)

We need nuclear power, says George Monbiot. But the government has plumped for outdated technology at the worst price imaginable.

2. Watch out for a European Tea Party (Financial Times)

The big danger to the euro is that the political consensus that underpins it could come unstuck, writes Gideon Rachman. 

3. Loneliness is an inevitable result of Britain's economic model (Guardian)

Jeremy Hunt is wrong on who loneliness affects, wrong on what causes it, and wrong on what's happening in Asia, writes Aditya Chakrabortty.

4. Voters don’t want two tribes going to war (Times)

Nick Clegg signed up to the free-schools policy, writes Rachel Sylvester. He should not now rubbish it for electoral gain.

5. Rising energy costs: the bullies at the Big Six must be stood up to (Independent)

It’s the story of modern capitalism: debt is nationalised and profits are privatised, writes Owen Jones.

6. Rachel Reeves needs the thickest skin in the shadow cabinet (Guardian)

Rachel Reeves is Labour's best hope for shifting the national conversation towards how to give the unemployed a future, writes Polly Toynbee.

7. A price worth paying to keep the lights on (Daily Telegraph)

Hinkley Point gives Britain breathing space for proper strategic thinking on energy, says a Telegraph editorial.

8. Cameron must fear narrow election win (Financial Times)

Many Tories regard the prime minister as a ‘Conservative In Name Only’, writes Janan Ganesh.

9. Today’s conference on Syria is an opportunity for progress at last (Independent)

With Syria in military stalemate, there is no alternative but to seek a political solution, says an Independent editorial. 

10. It’s hard not to be cynical about politicians as the election nears (Daily Telegraph)

Once-favoured policies are being shamelessly disowned as the parties jockey for advantage, says Iain Martin.

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The Brexit slowdown is real

As Europe surges ahead, the UK is enduring its worst economic growth for five years. 

The recession that the Treasury and others forecast would follow the EU referendum never came. But there is now unmistakable evidence of an economic slowdown. 

Growth in the second quarter of this year was 0.3 per cent, which, following quarter one's 0.2 per cent, makes this the worst opening half since 2012. For individuals, growth is now almost non-existent. GDP per capita rose by just 0.1 per cent, continuing the worst living standards recovery on record. 

That Brexit helped cause the slowdown, rather than merely coincided with it, is evidenced by several facts. One is that, as George Osborne's former chief of staff Rupert Harrison observes, "the rest of Europe is booming and we're not". In the year since the EU referendum, Britain has gone from being one of the west's strongest performers to one of its weakest. 

The long-promised economic rebalancing, meanwhile, is further away than ever. Industrial production and manufacturing declined by 0.4 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively, with only services (up 0.5 per cent) making up for the shortfall. But with real wage growth negative (falling by 0.7 per cent in the three months to May 2017), and household saving at a record low, there is limited potential for consumers to continue to power growth. The pound's sharp depreciation since the Brexit vote has cut wages (by increasing inflation) without producing a corresponding rise in exports. 

To the UK's existing defects – low productivity, low investment and low pay – new ones have been added: political uncertainty and economic instability. As the clock runs down on its departure date, Britain is drifting towards Brexit in ever-worse shape. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.