Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Decent wages or a breadline economy: it's a no-brainer (Guardian)

The hostility that greeted Ed Miliband's ideas about increasing pay epitomises everything that's wrong with British business, says Ha-Joon Chang.

2. Breakaway Scots cannot keep the BoE (Financial Times)

An independent Scotland may use the pound – but it cannot have a say in running the central bank, writes Martin Wolf.

3. Why do so many critics of those of us on the left assume we are consumed by class envy? (Independent)

I’m not making personal attacks when I campaign for a fairer society, writes Owen Jones.

4. A smaller BBC would be good for audiences (Times)

In a digital age it’s unhealthy for the Corporation to spend the whole licence fee, says Roger Mosey.

5. US will not escape the Mideast fires (Financial Times)

Iraq and Libya show the dangers of intervention, Syria the perils of inaction, writes Philip Stephens.

6. Clegg is playing to the green middle (Daily Telegraph)

The Lib Dem leader is tailoring his speeches to detailed polling by party strategist Ryan Coetzee, writes Isabel Hardman.

7. Iain Duncan Smith's second epiphany: from compassion to brutality (Guardian)

I've seen his benefit sanctions inflict misery on places like Easterhouse, where poverty made him weep a decade ago, says Polly Toynbee.

8. We must fund the Armed Forces properly – before disaster strikes (Daily Telegraph)

For years now, Britain has lacked the will and the means to finish the battles it has started, says Fraser Nelson.

9. Cities are cool, unpredictable and hard to control: Russell Brand should run for mayor (Guardian)

They are our future states, electing dynamic leaders and welcoming new politics – as the win by Bill de Blasio shows, writes Simon Jenkins.

10. It’s all hot air unless they learn from defeat (Times)

Talk of who leads Labour next (Chuka, perhaps, or Yvette?) ignores the sentimental policies of today, writes Philip Collins.

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

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.