Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. What would the Age of Ed mean for Britain? Even he doesn’t know (Daily Telegraph)

Events are propelling Miliband towards No 10, but neither he nor his party are ready, argues Fraser Nelson.

2. The John Lewis motto should be 'never knowingly underpay' (Guardian)

Why celebrate the store's business model when its famed generosity doesn't extend to its outsourced and low-paid cleaners, writes Polly Toynbee.

3. The Lib Dems need to be more liberal (Financial Times)

Left libertarianism seems the right way to go for the junior coalition party, says Samuel Brittan.

4. Ignore the slogans. It’s all about leadership (Times) (£)

Three parties, three themes, but only one real question – can the man in charge make his followers back him, writes Philip Collins.

5. Hillsborough shows it's time for elected police commissioners (Guardian)

If the public head of Sheffield police had been accountable to voters we may have avoided the 23 years of cover-ups, argues Simon Jenkins.

6. Looking the American giants in the eye (Daily Telegraph)

A merger between BAE and its European rival EADS could create a defence superpower, writes Michael Clarke.

7. There's a moral case for striking instead of doing nothing (Independent)

For the first time in a generation the radical left has both reason and momentum on its side - we all must act to reject this failing austerity project, says Laurie Penny.

8. Ben Bernanke: flakcatcher-in-chief (Guardian)

Barack Obama's administration are likely to greet the Federal Reserve chief's latest move with a sigh of relief, says a Guardian editorial.

9. The US is becoming a selective superpower (Financial Times)

The country’s global reach will be reduced in a gradual reshaping of the postwar order, writes Philip Stephens.

10. Yes, he may have killed the princes in the Tower, but now we should give our last English king a decent burial (Daily Mail)

There is much that we know of the good he did in a turbulent age, he deserves, with due ceremony, a decent burial, says Simon Heffer.

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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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