Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. What exactly can private schools teach the state sector? (Guardian)

As the head of an independent school puts forward plans to tackle inequality, he forgets his sector's dire record when working in state education, says John Harris.

2. The rise of a new US federalism (Financial Times)

With federal government largely paralysed, the future is being shaped in the cities, writes Edward Luce.

3. What is it about male politicians that they seem to have such problems dealing with women? (Independent)

In France, female MPs endure obscene gestures, wolf whistles and other insults, writes Yasmin Alibhai Brown. 

4. Our housing is in crisis – we need both brownfield and greenfield sites (Guardian)

The tougher the planning controls, the higher the house prices, writes Chris Huhne. We must ease restrictions in our cities and in the countryside.

5. Cleggton Keynes in England’s rolling hills? No thanks, Nick (Daily Telegraph)

We don’t need any new 'garden’ cities, writes Boris Johnson. London’s brownfield sites can solve the housing crisis.

6. Obama’s plan for US surveillance (Financial Times)

The proposals offer only a modest advance on what is needed, says an FT editorial. 

7. After Owen Jones’s open letter to Ukip voters last week, here is my reply (Independent)

I fear that you may have been reading too much into a statistical sample and haven’t taken the time to get out and meet our voters, writes Nigel Farage to Owen Jones.

8. Growing Pains (Times)

As the global economy slowly recovers, policymakers should recall that debt-fuelled consumption has limits, says a Times editorial.

9. I believe this ghastly woman hastened my friend's death (Daily Mail)

Lord McAlpine was broken down by the cruel strain of being a victim of Sally Bercow's terrible lie, writes Simon Heffer. 

10. If we don’t care, we will legalise euthanasia (Times)

Dutch right-to-die laws opened the door to the killing of mentally ill patients, writes Peter Franklin. 

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PMQs review: Theresa May shows how her confidence has grown

After her Brexit speech, the PM declared of Jeremy Corbyn: "I've got a plan - he doesn't have a clue". 

The woman derided as “Theresa Maybe” believes she has neutralised that charge. Following her Brexit speech, Theresa May cut a far more confident figure at today's PMQs. Jeremy Corbyn inevitably devoted all six of his questions to Europe but failed to land a definitive blow.

He began by denouncing May for “sidelining parliament” at the very moment the UK was supposedly reclaiming sovereignty (though he yesterday praised her for guaranteeing MPs would get a vote). “It’s not so much the Iron Lady as the irony lady,” he quipped. But May, who has sometimes faltered against Corbyn, had a ready retort. The Labour leader, she noted, had denounced the government for planning to leave the single market while simultaneously seeking “access” to it. Yet “access”, she went on, was precisely what Corbyn had demanded (seemingly having confused it with full membership). "I've got a plan - he doesn't have a clue,” she declared.

When Corbyn recalled May’s economic warnings during the referendum (“Does she now disagree with herself?”), the PM was able to reply: “I said if we voted to leave the EU the sky would not fall in and look at what has happened to our economic situation since we voted to leave the EU”.

Corbyn’s subsequent question on whether May would pay for single market access was less wounding than it might have been because she has consistently refused to rule out budget contributions (though yesterday emphasised that the days of “vast” payments were over).

When the Labour leader ended by rightly hailing the contribution immigrants made to public services (“The real pressure on public services comes from a government that slashed billions”), May took full opportunity of the chance to have the last word, launching a full-frontal attack on his leadership and a defence of hers. “There is indeed a difference - when I look at the issue of Brexit or any other issues like the NHS or social care, I consider the issue, I set out my plan and I stick to it. It's called leadership, he should try it some time.”

For May, life will soon get harder. Once Article 50 is triggered, it is the EU 27, not the UK, that will take back control (the withdrawal agreement must be approved by at least 72 per cent of member states). With MPs now guaranteed a vote on the final outcome, parliament will also reassert itself. But for now, May can reflect with satisfaction on her strengthened position.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.