Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. This is shaping up to be the most racially polarised US election ever (Guardian)

As their once core demographic diminishes, Republicans are going to any lengths to capture and keep the white vote, says Gary Younge.

2. Supporters of the NHS should fear Jeremy Hunt (Independent)

We must learn from our former mistakes before privatising our national institution, says Owen Jones.

3. America’s season of hollow boastfulness (Financial Times)

Each candidate, with their different visions, is indulging in national denial, says Edward Luce.

4. Chris Grayling will need soul, not a law degree (Times) (£)

A Justice Secretary must be above the hubbub of politics, writes Ken Macdonald. He needs the guts to say, "You’re wrong".

5. Casting ahead to the 2015 election, no party leader likes what he sees (Guardian)

Politicians often don't get to fight the election they want, but our economic deterioration is already giving the next campaign the look of a nightmare, writes Gavin Kelly.

6. Now Dave’s got a winning hand (Sun)

Cameron has bought time and, unless Boris Johnson is quite mad, seen off any threat to his leadership, writes Trevor Kavanagh.

7. Cameron faces a new swipe from the right (Daily Mail)

A new centre-right Tory group is being set up that is seen by many as a snub to Cameron's policy-light government, writes Andrew Pierce.

8. Blair's easy rehabilitation is shameful (Independent)

Sir Geoffrey Bindman agrees with Tutu that the Iraq war was illegal and aggressive and breached UN charter provisions, writes Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. The ICC should hear their case.

9. US needs Japan as its best ally in Asia (Financial Times)

The relationship should be a Nato for economic statecraft, write Ian Bremmer and David Gordon.

10. Britain shines as a beacon of enlightenment in the world (Daily Telegraph)

No degree of cynicism can undo the good achieved during the extraordinary summer, says Boris Johnson.

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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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