Louise Mensch resigns as an MP

Conservative MP plans to move to New York to live with her husband.

To the surprise of most people, Louise Mensch has just announced that she is resigning as an MP with immediate effect. Mensch intends to move to New York to live with her husband, Metallica manager Peter Mensch, who is based in the city. She told her local paper, the Northamptonshire Telegraph:

I am completely devastated. It’s been unbelievably difficult to manage family life.

We have been trying to find a way forward with the Prime Minister’s office but I just can’t spend as much time with my children as I want to.

I love Corby and East Northamptonshire but my family has to come first.

When I took the post I was in a different position but sometimes life throws you a curve ball that you didn’t expect.

We are now going to be moving out to New York as a family.

Every family is different and another mother might feel she can manage things.

It’s been an honour to represent the people of Corby and East Northants and I will miss them.

As I said, Mensch's decision will come as a surprise to most people, but she had previously hinted that she would leave politics behind. In an interview with the New Statesman last October, she told Jon Bernstein:

I may well do something else. I'm not sure I make old bones in parliament. It's an amazing experience to have had but I can't see myself being Mother of the House.

Asked if she would fight the next election, she replied: 

I haven't made up my mind. It is an extremely difficult balancing act with three small children and a husband who lives in New York. I'm stretched multiple ways.

The Tories now face what is likely to be a challenging by-election in Corby on 15 November. At the last election, the party narrowly gained the seat from Labour with a majority of 1,951.

Louise Mensch, the Conservative MP for Corby, is resigning to move to New York. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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How Theresa May laid a trap for herself on the immigration target

When Home Secretary, she insisted on keeping foreign students in the figures – causing a headache for herself today.

When Home Secretary, Theresa May insisted that foreign students should continue to be counted in the overall immigration figures. Some cabinet colleagues, including then Business Secretary Vince Cable and Chancellor George Osborne wanted to reverse this. It was economically illiterate. Current ministers, like the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, also want foreign students exempted from the total.

David Cameron’s government aimed to cut immigration figures – including overseas students in that aim meant trying to limit one of the UK’s crucial financial resources. They are worth £25bn to the UK economy, and their fees make up 14 per cent of total university income. And the impact is not just financial – welcoming foreign students is diplomatically and culturally key to Britain’s reputation and its relationship with the rest of the world too. Even more important now Brexit is on its way.

But they stayed in the figures – a situation that, along with counterproductive visa restrictions also introduced by May’s old department, put a lot of foreign students off studying here. For example, there has been a 44 per cent decrease in the number of Indian students coming to Britain to study in the last five years.

Now May’s stubbornness on the migration figures appears to have caught up with her. The Times has revealed that the Prime Minister is ready to “soften her longstanding opposition to taking foreign students out of immigration totals”. It reports that she will offer to change the way the numbers are calculated.

Why the u-turn? No 10 says the concession is to ensure the Higher and Research Bill, key university legislation, can pass due to a Lords amendment urging the government not to count students as “long-term migrants” for “public policy purposes”.

But it will also be a factor in May’s manifesto pledge (and continuation of Cameron’s promise) to cut immigration to the “tens of thousands”. Until today, ministers had been unclear about whether this would be in the manifesto.

Now her u-turn on student figures is being seized upon by opposition parties as “massaging” the migration figures to meet her target. An accusation for which May only has herself, and her steadfast politicising of immigration, to blame.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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