Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. HS2: The train now departing... needs to reach its destination (Independent)

There is in theory a political consensus around this project, writes Steve Richards. Treasure it.

2. Mainstream economics is in denial: the world has changed (Guardian)

Despite the crash, the high priests of economics refuse to look at the big picture – and continue to prop up the world's elites, writes Aditya Chakrabortty.

3. Rights abusers can breathe more easily (Financial Times)

The west’s lofty principles are being tested by a desire to please the powerful, says Gideon Rachmann.

4. Apartheid still thrives today – by gender (Times)

Saudis are banned from driving; we say nothing, writes Hugo Rifkind. Our foreign policy doesn’t champion women’s rights.

5. London’s astonishing boom can lift the whole of Britain (Daily Telegraph)

Wealth is flowing to the undisputed capital of the world – but with it comes a political test, writes Benedict Brogan.

6. As Syria disintegrates, so too does Iraq (Independent)

Where there are Sunni minorities in Iraq,  they will be killed or forced to flee, writes Patrick Cockburn.

7. NHS payoff scandal could cost David Cameron dear (Times)

Bungled reforms let managers pocket thousands in redundancy and walk straight into another job, writes Rachel Sylvester. 

8. Ideology meets idiocy in these brutal disability cuts (Guardian)

Iain Duncan Smith's savage new disability benefits regime not only smears the vulnerable but makes no economic sense, says Polly Toynbee. 

9. Show trials make for bad government (Daily Telegraph)

When MPs hurl abuse at energy bosses and other villains, the result is more heat than light, says Iain Martin.

10. The paradox at the heart of UK posturing (Financial Times)

Cameron wants the country to trade freely in everything but people, writes Janan Ganesh.

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Voters are turning against Brexit but the Lib Dems aren't benefiting

Labour's pro-Brexit stance is not preventing it from winning the support of Remainers. Will that change?

More than a year after the UK voted for Brexit, there has been little sign of buyer's remorse. The public, including around a third of Remainers, are largely of the view that the government should "get on with it".

But as real wages are squeezed (owing to the Brexit-linked inflationary spike) there are tentative signs that the mood is changing. In the event of a second referendum, an Opinium/Observer poll found, 47 per cent would vote Remain, compared to 44 per cent for Leave. Support for a repeat vote is also increasing. Forty one per cent of the public now favour a second referendum (with 48 per cent opposed), compared to 33 per cent last December. 

The Liberal Democrats have made halting Brexit their raison d'être. But as public opinion turns, there is no sign they are benefiting. Since the election, Vince Cable's party has yet to exceed single figures in the polls, scoring a lowly 6 per cent in the Opinium survey (down from 7.4 per cent at the election). 

What accounts for this disparity? After their near-extinction in 2015, the Lib Dems remain either toxic or irrelevant to many voters. Labour, by contrast, despite its pro-Brexit stance, has hoovered up Remainers (55 per cent back Jeremy Corbyn's party). 

In some cases, this reflects voters' other priorities. Remainers are prepared to support Labour on account of the party's stances on austerity, housing and education. Corbyn, meanwhile, is a eurosceptic whose internationalism and pro-migration reputation endear him to EU supporters. Other Remainers rewarded Labour MPs who voted against Article 50, rebelling against the leadership's stance. 

But the trend also partly reflects ignorance. By saying little on the subject of Brexit, Corbyn and Labour allowed Remainers to assume the best. Though there is little evidence that voters will abandon Corbyn over his EU stance, the potential exists.

For this reason, the proposal of a new party will continue to recur. By challenging Labour over Brexit, without the toxicity of Lib Dems, it would sharpen the choice before voters. Though it would not win an election, a new party could force Corbyn to soften his stance on Brexit or to offer a second referendum (mirroring Ukip's effect on the Conservatives).

The greatest problem for the project is that it lacks support where it counts: among MPs. For reasons of tribalism and strategy, there is no emergent "Gang of Four" ready to helm a new party. In the absence of a new convulsion, the UK may turn against Brexit without the anti-Brexiteers benefiting. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.