Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. A health service for all citizens really would be patriotic (Daily Telegraph)

Patriotism may prove to be the legacy of these Olympics, and politicians are vying to claim its spirit as their own, writes Mary Riddell.

2. Mohamed Morsi is changing the balance of power in Egypt (Guardian)

In ousting Mubarak-era military chiefs the president has, some fear, accrued too many powers, writes David Hearst. But he is no Vladimir Putin.

3. PM can't count on any gains from the feel-good factor (Independent)

There are millions of Britons thoroughly cheesed off by their inability to get tickets, writes Dominic Lawson.

4. Britain can avoid a post-Olympic crash (Financial Times)

The success of the Olympics has reminded the British that they live in a country that can still succeed on and off the track, writes Gideon Rachman.

5. The risk of allowing shops to open all hours (Daily Telegraph)

Total deregulation may sound tempting, but Sunday trading law stirs strong emotions, writes Philip Johnston.

6. Must the poor go hungry just so the rich can drive? (Guardian)

Sports stars like Mo Farah at No 10 will not change a simple fact: people are starving because of the west's thirst for biofuels, says George Monbiot.

7. London’s East End shows limits of the state (Financial Times)

Just as the UK is learning to invest in itself, it is losing its strengths of openness and flexibility, argues Janan Ganesh.

8. If only a real democrat was behind this sacking (Times) (£)

The removal of Egypt’s army chief restrains the military, writes Maajid Nawaz. Now we need to rein in Islamism.

9. Only big ideas will revive the economy (Daily Mail)

What is needed is nothing less than a fundamental rebalancing of the state-driven economy in favour of the wealth-creating private sector, argues a Daily Mail leader.

10. Paul Ryan's faith in Ayn Rand is a political problem for Romney (Guardian)

Romney's running mate may be Catholic but his admiration for an author hostile to Jesus's teachings risks losing him votes, writes Giles Fraser.

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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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