Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. In language and action, there's a new brutalism in Westminster (Observer)

George Osborne is not interested in helping people, writes Will Hutton. His purpose is political positioning.

2. Foreign media portrayals of the conflict in Syria are dangerously inaccurate (Independent on Sunday)

It is naive not to accept that both sides are capable of manipulating the facts to serve their own interests, writes Patrick Cockburn.

3. Nelson Mandela taught the Tories the value of trust in politics (Sunday Telegraph)

The Conservative Party’s shifting relationship with the great South African leader reflects a significant change in its style and attitude, writes Matthew d'Ancona.

4. Osborne has turned an omni-shambles into an omni-rout and buried 'borrow more' Ed Miliband (Mail on Sunday)

The Chancellor cemented the Tories' victory in the battle of ideas, and opened a new political era, says Michael Portillo.

5. Labour's big problem isn't being different: it's how to look credible (Observer)

Voters won't doubt that the Eds would change things, writes Andrew Rawnsley. They do need persuading that their sums would add up.

6. The election will be fought on benefits (Independent on Sunday)

The Chancellor and his shadow are manoeuvring skilfully for the vote-winning position between social justice and fiscal prudence, writes John Rentoul.

7. George zips ahead but his young friends will pay (Sunday Times)

The Tories shouldn't take false comfort from the Spending Review, suggests Adam Boulton.

8. Hate porn, sure, but be wary of banning it (Observer)

The principle that consenting adults are free to watch what they want is worth defending, says Nick Cohen.

9. Dear Sir Humphrey, Please stop churning out pompous, windy letters. Yours sincerely, Michael Gove (Mail on Sunday)

Every minister has something they are punctilious about, says James Forsyth. For Michael Gove, it is how letters are written.

10. It’s no longer unthinkable to shrink the state (Sunday Telegraph)

The political parties are having to scramble to keep up with the realism of most voters, says Janet Daley.

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Will the Brexit Cabinet talks end in a “three baskets” approach?

The joy of the three baskets idea is that everyone gets to tell themselves that it will be their basket that ends up the fullest. 

It's decision day in the Brexit talks. Again.

The Brexit inner Cabinet will meet to hammer out not its final position, but the shape of its negotiating position. The expected result: an agreement on an end state in which the United Kingdom agrees it will follow EU regulations as it were still a member, for example on aviation; will agree to follow EU objectives but go about them in its own way, for example on recycling, where the British government wants to do more on plastic and less on glass; and finally, in some areas, it will go its way completely, for instance on financial services. Or as it has come to be known in Whitehall, the "three baskets" approach.

For all the lengthy run-up, this bit isn't expected to be difficult: the joy of the three baskets idea is that everyone gets to tell themselves that it will be their basket that ends up the fullest. There are two difficulties: the first is that the EU27 won't play ball, and the second is that MPs will kick off when it emerges that their preferred basket is essentially empty.

The objections of the EU27 are perhaps somewhat overwritten. The demands of keeping the Irish border open, maintaining Europol and EU-wide defence operations means that in a large number of areas, a very close regulatory and political relationship is in everyone's interests. But everyone knows that in order for the Conservative government to actually sign the thing, there is going to have to be some divergence somewhere.

The bigger problem is what happens here at home when it turns out that the third basket - that is to say, full regulatory autonomy - is confined to fishing and the "industries of the future". The European Research Group may have a few more letters left to send yet.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman and the PSA's Journalist of the Year. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.