Grant Shapps is... Michael Green

Photo emerges of new Tory chairman wearing a "Michael Green" name badge at a Las Vegas conference.

Will the real Grant Shapps please stand up?

It is already known that the new Tory party chairman founded an internet company under the alias "Michael Green", and that several of the company's sites - now owned by family members - have been blacklisted by Google. We also already know that Shapps wrote a book, How to Bounce Back from Recession, under the name Michael Green.

But today we got a glimpse into quite how seriously Shapps took his alter ego, as a photo emerged of him at a conference in Las Vegas, wearing a name tag reading "Michael Green".

The Guardian, which broke the story, reports:

In 2004 Shapps, then the Tory candidate for the Hertfordshire seat, was passing himself off as Green and began to appear at web marketing conferences – speaking at a $2,797-a-ticket convention in Las Vegas's New York New York Hotel and Casino, whose facade is a lifesize replica of 12 Manhattan skyscrapers including a 529-foot-tall copy of the Empire State building. It was here that Shapps was pictured as Green.

The photo was taken by Rosalind Gardner at the Joint Venture summit, organised by Richard Roop, and it can be found here

Here's a screenshot:

Michael Green. Photo: Getty Images
Getty Images.
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Why Theresa May won't exclude students from the net migration target

The Prime Minister believes the public would view the move as "a fix". 

In a letter to David Cameron shortly after the last general election, Philip Hammond demanded that students be excluded from the net migration target. The then foreign secretary, who was backed by George Osborne and Sajid Javid, wrote: "From a foreign policy point of view, Britain's role as a world class destination for international students is a highly significant element of our soft power offer. It's an issue that's consistently raised with me by our foreign counterparts." Universities and businesses have long argued that it is economically harmful to limit student numbers. But David Cameron, supported by Theresa May, refused to relent. 

Appearing before the Treasury select committee yesterday, Hammond reignited the issue. "As we approach the challenge of getting net migration figures down, it is in my view essential that we look at how we do this in a way that protects the vital interests of our economy," he said. He added that "It's not whether politicians think one thing or another, it's what the public believe and I think it would be useful to explore that quesrtion." A YouGov poll published earlier this year found that 57 per cent of the public support excluding students from the "tens of thousands" target.

Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, has also pressured May to do so. But the Prime Minister not only rejected the proposal - she demanded a stricter regime. Rudd later announced in her conference speech that there would be "tougher rules for students on lower quality courses". 

The economic case for reform is that students aid growth. The political case is that it would make the net migration target (which has been missed for six years) easier to meet (long-term immigration for study was 164,000 in the most recent period). But in May's view, excluding students from the target would be regarded by the public as a "fix" and would harm the drive to reduce numbers. If an exemption is made for one group, others will inevitably demand similar treatment. 

Universities complain that their lobbying power has been reduced by the decision to transfer ministerial responsibility from the business department to education. Bill Rammell, the former higher education minister and the vice-chancellor of Bedfordshire, said in July: “We shouldn’t assume that Theresa May as prime minister will have the same restrictive view on overseas students that Theresa May the home secretary had”. Some Tory MPs hoped that the net migration target would be abolished altogether in a "Nixon goes to China" moment.

But rather than retreating, May has doubled-down. The Prime Minister regards permanently reduced migration as essential to her vision of a more ordered society. She believes the economic benefits of high immigration are both too negligible and too narrow. 

Her ambition is a forbidding one. Net migration has not been in the "tens of thousands" since 1997: when the EU had just 15 member states and the term "BRICS" had not even been coined. But as prime minister, May is determined to achieve what she could not as home secretary. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.