David Cameron's press conference -- live blog

Minute-by-minute coverage of the Tory leader's monthly press conference

9:28am: David Cameron is holding his monthly press conference at 9:45am today. Cameron is likely to be questioned about the "broken society" speech he delivered on Friday, which has come under attack in the FT and elsewhere today.

Follow The Staggers for live coverage from 9:45.

9:45am Cameron begins by discussing the "broken society". He says his speech on Friday wasn't an attack on "any one party or government". But he adds that Labour's response shows how "little they have to offer" on this issue. The government should allow the full case report into the Edlington case to be published.

9:47am Now we're on to the economy. Cameron claims "Labour's debt crisis" is the biggest threat to economic recovery.

9:50am Cameron discusses how the Tory party has "changed". He says black and minority candidates now make up almost 10 per cent of Tory candidates and says that he expects to treble the number of female Tory MPs.

9:51am The BBC's James Lansdale asks Cameron to outline the nature of Tory discussions with the Democratic Unionist Party and the Ulster Unionist Party. Cameron says his aim is to see devolution completed -- "that comes before everything else".

9:54am Nick Robinson asks Cameron to confirm if he will cut public spending and raise taxes by tens of billions of pounds. Cameron says the risks of not cutting the Budget deficit outweigh the risks of cutting it.

He calls on the government to admit that it needs to begin cutting the deficit in 2010. Labour needs to put away its "pathetic dividing lines" and "moral cowardice", he says.

9:56am Cameron is asked to provide details of his party's policy on marriage. He says "the message is more important than the money".

9:58am After Bob Ainsworth unwittingly revealed 6 May as the election date, Cameron is asked if he would end the right of the Prime Minister to call an early election. He says he is attracted by fixed-term parliaments but he fears they would allow a "weak minority government" to remain in power.

10:01am Channel 4's Gary Gibbon asks Cameron if he gives the government any credit for keeping unemployment lower than in previous recessions. Cameron replies by saying that "we have record levels of youth unemployment". The government's strategy has been "staggeringly unsuccessful", he says.

10:05am Adam Boulton of Sky News presses Cameron for a full answer to Robinson's question on spending cuts. Cameron says the key is "early action", not the amount. Is he suggesting that the Tories would cut earlier, but not more, than Labour?

10:08am ConservativeHome's Tim Montgomerie urges Cameron to reconsider his decision not to join Twitter. He points out that while Downing Street and Sarah Brown have over a million followers, the most popular Conservative, Boris Johnson, has only 60,000. The Tory leader says he'll think again, but argues that politicians talk too much already.

10:16am Peter Hitchens asks Cameron for his opinion on politicians who "ostentatiously support" comprehensive education but send their children to faith schools (as David Miliband has done). Cameron says he rejects the premise of the question, pointing out that faith schools lie within the state sector.

10:19am Cameron is asked for his thoughts on Barack Obama's banking reform plan. He says the plan is a "positive step forward" and says that the US president has raised the important issue of how we deal with the "moral hazard" of banks that now believe they are "too big to fail".

10:22am The final question comes from the FT's Jean Eaglesham. Cameron is asked if he is still considering all-women shortlists for Westminster constituencies. He says they "absoutely remain an option" if more Tory MPs resign before the election. That's likely to anger the right of his party.

 

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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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