Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Sir John Major has broken his silence – let’s hope the party is listening (Daily Telegraph)

The former PM wants less 'ideology’ and more talk about what matters to ordinary people, writes Peter Oborne. 

2. It's not all immigrants who the Tories fear. It's the mobile poor (Guardian)

The real aim of recent policies is to segregate belonging according to income, writes Zoe Williams. The more you earn, the more rights you have.

3. Drone strikes set a dangerous precedent (Financial Times)

A nation at war with an abstract threat has no right to mount a pre-emptive killing spree, says David Pilling. 

4. Osborne is best when he’s most unpopular (Times)

There is a Bad Osbo who obsesses about political tactics and a Good Osbo who takes long-term decisions, writes Tim Montgomerie.

5. Grangemouth could help shape the Scottish referendum (Guardian)

The SNP has cast itself as defender of the economy from the icy wind of global markets, writes Martin Kettle. What's icier than closure on the Forth?

6. Oil and troubled waters for Alex Salmond (Daily Telegraph)

The closure of Scotland’s sole refinery would be a body-blow to the SNP’s dream of independence, says Alan Cochrane.

7. John Major's snide attack on the PM over fuel prices was as flawed as his six disastrous years in Number 10 (Daily Mail)

The more one re-reads Sir John’s words, the more they read like a calculated act of treacher, says Simon Heffer. 

8. Cameron must stop Europe’s latest assault on Britain (Times)

New regulations on technology are utter madness, writes Rohan Silva. 

9. The Prime Minister is in a bind over energy prices, but cutting green levies is no way out (Independent)

Cameron has sounded the death knell of his once-vaunted green conservatism, says an Independent leader.

10. Companies must adapt to new rules (Financial Times)

Banks and utilities need to make their case, be open and look beyond immediate troubles, writes John Gapper.

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Theresa May is paying the price for mismanaging Boris Johnson

The Foreign Secretary's bruised ego may end up destroying Theresa May. 

And to think that Theresa May scheduled her big speech for this Friday to make sure that Conservative party conference wouldn’t be dominated by the matter of Brexit. Now, thanks to Boris Johnson, it won’t just be her conference, but Labour’s, which is overshadowed by Brexit in general and Tory in-fighting in particular. (One imagines that the Labour leadership will find a way to cope somehow.)

May is paying the price for mismanaging Johnson during her period of political hegemony after she became leader. After he was betrayed by Michael Gove and lacking any particular faction in the parliamentary party, she brought him back from the brink of political death by making him Foreign Secretary, but also used her strength and his weakness to shrink his empire.

The Foreign Office had its responsibility for negotiating Brexit hived off to the newly-created Department for Exiting the European Union (Dexeu) and for navigating post-Brexit trade deals to the Department of International Trade. Johnson was given control of one of the great offices of state, but with no responsibility at all for the greatest foreign policy challenge since the Second World War.

Adding to his discomfort, the new Foreign Secretary was regularly the subject of jokes from the Prime Minister and cabinet colleagues. May likened him to a dog that had to be put down. Philip Hammond quipped about him during his joke-fuelled 2017 Budget. All of which gave Johnson’s allies the impression that Johnson-hunting was a licensed sport as far as Downing Street was concerned. He was then shut out of the election campaign and has continued to be a marginalised figure even as the disappointing election result forced May to involve the wider cabinet in policymaking.

His sense of exclusion from the discussions around May’s Florence speech only added to his sense of isolation. May forgot that if you aren’t going to kill, don’t wound: now, thanks to her lost majority, she can’t afford to put any of the Brexiteers out in the cold, and Johnson is once again where he wants to be: centre-stage. 

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.