Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. As we ogle her shoes, Teflon Theresa eyes No 10 (Sunday Times) (£)

In Westminster’s unending quest for the next leader, fancies are turning towards the home secretary, says Adam Boulton.

2. Are you in a sham marriage? (Observer)

Border Agency officials ruined a wedding last week, but maybe we should all take their test, says Victoria Coren.

3. Could Chris Christie’s magic work for the Tories? (Sunday Telegraph)

Appealing to the blue-collar middle class does not come naturally to any party in Britain, says Janet Daley.

4. 66,000 girls mutilated - and we've let them do it (Mail on Sunday)

FGM has been banned here, in theory, since 1985. But it goes on, says Rachel Johnson.

5. A comedian rants and politics looks fun. Now let the grown-ups talk (Sunday Times) (£)

It is not surprising that people think MPs are useless when they get into power, says Camilla Cavendish.

6. Ed Miliband has no answer to IDS the dragon-slayer (Sunday Telegraph)

There have been snarl-ups, but Iain Duncan Smith is undeterred – if welfare reform was easy, he’ll say, someone else would have done it by now, writes Bruce Anderson.

7. Which part of a woman's body will we be taught to despise next? (Observer)

Kate's grey hair is just the latest bit to come under scrutiny, says Barbara Ellen

8. Why Dave needs a 95% loan to keep his dream home (Mail on Sunday)

David Cameron will ‘channel’ Margaret Thatcher this week, says James Forsyth

9. Even a vote for Nick Clegg is better than not voting (Independent on Sunday)

Politicians tend to pay more attention to rich, older men such as Russell Brand or Jeremy Paxman, says John Rentoul.

10. Under the Tories we have become Fool Britannia as foreign countries cash in on our energy bills (Sunday Mirror)

Why not employ our redundant former shipyard workers to make wind turbines instead of sending the work abroad, asks John Prescott.

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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.