Morning Call: pick of the comment

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

1.This is no ripping yarn, but a murder to fan more conflict (Guardian)

Seumas Milne attacks the "craven" response of the British government to the Hamas leader's killing in Dubai. The assassination was a scandal that has put British citizens at greater risk by association with Mossad death squads, he writes.

2. Whoever you vote for, painful cuts will come (Times)

Anatole Kaletsky says that the important differences between Labour and the Tories are not over the size or timing of cuts, but over whether voters and the markets believe the new government will have the strength to implement them.

3. The false promise of romantic ideas (Independent)

One of the main divisions within the Labour Party is that between romantic and practical politicians, writes Steve Richards. Romantics such as James Purnell may appear bold, but they avoid the tough task of implementing policy, which demands more courage.

4. Cameron will transform Britain, if the Tories can win the political game (Daily Telegraph)

David Cameron should personally avoid negative campaigning, but he ought to find others to do it for him, says Bruce Anderson. A more robust campaign would dispel some of the growing anxiety at Tory HQ.

5. America is in need of a pep talk from its president (Financial Times)

Robert Shiller says Barack Obama should remember the role that Franklin D Roosevelt's personal addresses played in the success of his economic plans. Through moral rhetoric, leaders can boost economic confidence.

6. We need judges to investigate our spies, not spies to berate our judges (Guardian)

Timothy Garton Ash argues that the criticism of judges over the Binyam Mohamed case is entirely unwarranted. And he calls for a judicial inquiry into the past conduct of MI5.

7. The hand extended to Syria is also intended as a blow to Iran (Independent)

The renewed US engagement with Syria is part of a huge diplomatic push to isolate and roll back Iran, says Andrew Tabler.

8. Don't panic about inflation -- that can wait (Daily Telegraph)

Edmund Conway argues that now is not the time to panic about inflation. Far more worrying are the recessionary forces still damaging the economy.

9. Give me Tory dinosaurs any day over rude upstarts who seem to hate their own party (Daily Mail)

Stephen Glover criticises the Tory candidate Joanne Cash for mocking her party's grass roots as "dinosaurs". As Conservatives, Cash and Cameron should cherish the wisdom and experience of the old guard.

10. Reject ad hoc, national financial reforms (Financial Times)

Dominic Strauss-Kahn, head of the IMF, says the world's leading economies must remember that co-ordinated action works better than unilateralism.

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Amber Rudd's report on the benefits of EU immigration is better late than never

The study will strengthen the case for a liberal post-Brexit immigration system. 

More than a year after vowing to restrict EU immigration, the government has belatedly decided to investigate whether that's a good idea. Home Secretary Amber Rudd has asked the independent Migration Advisory Committee to report on the costs and benefits of free movement to the British economy.

The study won't conclude until September 2018 - just six months before the current Brexit deadline and after the publication of the government's immigration white paper. But in this instance, late is better than never. If the report reflects previous studies it will show that EU migration has been an unambiguous economic benefit. Immigrants pay far more in tax than they claim in benefits and sectors such as agriculture, retail and social care depend on a steady flow of newcomers. 

Amber Rudd has today promised businesses and EU nationals that there will be no "cliff edge" when the UK leaves the EU, while immigration minister Brandon Lewis has seemingly contradicted her by baldly stating: "freedom of movement ends in the spring of 2019". The difference, it appears, is explained by whether one is referring to "Free Movement" (the official right Britain enjoys as an EU member) or merely "free movement" (allowing EU migrants to enter the newly sovereign UK). 

More important than such semantics is whether Britain's future immigration system is liberal or protectionist. In recent months, cabinet ministers have been forced to acknowledge an inconvenient truth: Britain needs immigrants. Those who boasted during the referendum of their desire to reduce the number of newcomers have been forced to qualify their remarks. Brexit Secretary David Davis, for instance, recently conceded that immigration woud not invariably fall after the UK leaves the EU. "I cannot imagine that the policy will be anything other than that which is in the national interest, which means that from time to time we’ll need more, from time to time we’ll need less migrants." 

In this regard, it's striking that Brandon Lewis could not promise that the "tens of thousands" net migration target would be met by the end of this parliament (2022) and that Rudd's FT article didn't even reference it. As George Osborne helpfully observed earlier this year, no senior cabinet minister (including Rudd) supports the policy. When May departs, whether this year or in 2019, she will likely take the net migration target with her. 

In the meantime, even before the end of free movement, net migration has already fallen to its lowest level since 2014 (248,000), while EU citizens are emigrating at the fastest rate for six years (117,000 left in 2016). The pound’s depreciation (which makes British wages less competitive), the spectre of Brexit and a rise in hate crimes and xenophobia are among the main deterrents. If the report does its job, it will show why the UK can't afford for that trend to continue. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.