Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Anything makes more sense than the HS2 fiasco (Guardian)

Tories can blame Labour for the line's demise, use the billions on other rail and road links – and reap a publicity bonanza, writes Simon Jenkins. 

2. The Big Six: This was supposed to be a grilling, but even Russell Brand would have struggled to give one (Independent)

Nationalising the energy industry will not make electricity bills magically cheaper, writes John Rentoul. 

3. Bank of England’s Mark Carney places a bet on big finance (Financial Times)

The governor has opted for boldness at a time when caution might be a safer course, writes Martin Wolf.

4. Labour has its sights trained on the laurel hedges of the suburbs (Daily Telegraph)

Miliband's party is targeting all its resources at a small group of voters who can swing the general election vote, says Mary Riddell. 

5. Europe is still bugged by weak leadership (Times)

EU  leaders hope that the worst is over but the continent’s economic and demographic problems persist, writes Roger Boyes.

6. Private schools are blocking social mobility (Daily Telegraph)

Their education is so good that it is stopping downward mobility of the dim and indolent, says David Kynaston.

7. The grip of privatisation on our vital services has to be broken (Guardian)

From Ineos to energy, vested interests are driving a 30-year failed experiment, says Seumas Milne. Utilities belong in public hands.

8. Oh no, the U.S. has dropped us in it again (Daily Mail)

By tapping the phones of its allies’ leaders, the US is guilty of a grave diplomatic insult, says Andrew Alexander. 

9. The reality of UK’s nuclear power failure (Financial Times)

The switch that was flicked in 1956 activated a period of commercial calamity, writes John Kay. 

10. Progress involves 51% success and 49% error (Times)

Individuals, businesses and nations only move forwards if they take risks that sometimes go wrong, writes Alice Thomson. 

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Why relations between Theresa May and Philip Hammond became tense so quickly

The political imperative of controlling immigration is clashing with the economic imperative of maintaining growth. 

There is no relationship in government more important than that between the prime minister and the chancellor. When Theresa May entered No.10, she chose Philip Hammond, a dependable technocrat and long-standing ally who she had known since Oxford University. 

But relations between the pair have proved far tenser than anticipated. On Wednesday, Hammond suggested that students could be excluded from the net migration target. "We are having conversations within government about the most appropriate way to record and address net migration," he told the Treasury select committee. The Chancellor, in common with many others, has long regarded the inclusion of students as an obstacle to growth. 

The following day Hammond was publicly rebuked by No.10. "Our position on who is included in the figures has not changed, and we are categorically not reviewing whether or not students are included," a spokesman said (as I reported in advance, May believes that the public would see this move as "a fix"). 

This is not the only clash in May's first 100 days. Hammond was aggrieved by the Prime Minister's criticisms of loose monetary policy (which forced No.10 to state that it "respects the independence of the Bank of England") and is resisting tougher controls on foreign takeovers. The Chancellor has also struck a more sceptical tone on the UK's economic prospects. "It is clear to me that the British people did not vote on June 23 to become poorer," he declared in his conference speech, a signal that national prosperity must come before control of immigration. 

May and Hammond's relationship was never going to match the remarkable bond between David Cameron and George Osborne. But should relations worsen it risks becoming closer to that beween Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. Like Hammond, Darling entered the Treasury as a calm technocrat and an ally of the PM. But the extraordinary circumstances of the financial crisis transformed him into a far more assertive figure.

In times of turmoil, there is an inevitable clash between political and economic priorities. As prime minister, Brown resisted talk of cuts for fear of the electoral consequences. But as chancellor, Darling was more concerned with the bottom line (backing a rise in VAT). By analogy, May is focused on the political imperative of controlling immigration, while Hammond is focused on the economic imperative of maintaining growth. If their relationship is to endure far tougher times they will soon need to find a middle way. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.