Exit Rahm Emanuel. Enter "Mr Fixer"

Obama must do without the man he used to start and end his day with.

He was the tactician-in-chief who's had a hand in almost every aspect of Democratic politics at the highest level for the last four years. But now Rahm Emanuel is stepping down as White House chief of staff, as he returns to the rather different rough and tumble of big-city Chicago politics -- chasing what he's called his "dream job" as the city's next mayor.

Emanuel last held elected office back in 2002 -- when he represented Chicago's 5th district in Congress -- rising so rapidly he was chosen to head up the Democratic effort to recapture a majority in the House in 2006 which they managed, winning some 30 seats. But from the heady heights of chairing the House Democratic caucus, a complete gear change when Barack Obama offered him the job of chief of staff.

His style could hardly have been more of a contrast to his aloof, rather academic boss: this was a political street-fighter who was as well known for his profanity as his consumate strategic skills.He amassed a vast experience in political campaigns, from raising money to managing the team -- and from the start, he was integral to Obama's decision-making.

As White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in Thursday's briefing: "The president starts his day with a meeting with Rahm and ends it with a meeting with Rahm. ...there's not an important thing that has happened in this administration that we've been able to accomplish for the American people that has not involved heavily his signature"

Of course Emanuel had plenty of political foes, inside the Democratic party and beyond: not least liberals who blame him for the decision to abandon the public option in the health care reforms, and forcing Democrats in the House to make key concessions to their Republican rivals. Because of him, they claim, any wider progressive vision was sacrificed to the pragmatic minutiae of political deals. In fact his relationship with House Democrats has not been particularly smooth: although Nancy Pelosi did announce yesterday that she would be endorsing his bid for Chicago mayor.

For the White House, it'll clearly be a huge loss with other key members of the Obama team set to announce their departures too, not least communications guru David Axelrod, who'll be taking charge of the 2012 re-election campaign.

It could leave the President somewhat bereft at this crucial moment in the presidency - or it could offer him a chance to reshape the West Wing, But the appointment of "Mr Fixer" Pete Rouse as acting chief of staff could send out a number of messages: he's clearly another insider, dubbed the "101st senator" -- with three decades of experience on Washington's political scene.

A profile in the New York Times described him as "a measured, discreet and skillful problem solver with a knack for navigating bureaucracy". All of which could come in handy if Obama finds himself having to deal with a Republican House.

It'll certainly be a quieter, politer West Wing - the cat-loving Rouse is also known for barely raising his voice - a man who fights his battles for the long term rather than any instant political gain. But beyond his interim tenure - there's a certain amount of pressure on Obama to find someone from outside his inner circle who could bring a new perspective and a different kind of energy to his team.

As for Rahm Emanuel he's now plunging into a rather crowded field back in Chicago with victory far from certain.

One city politician, Rep Bobby Rush, told the New York Times there would be no coronation: "He's a very viable and smart politician, but he's got as many challenges as everybody else."

So after today's high profile send off from President Obama, he'll be hitting the streets with a "listening tour" of city neighbourhoods trying to build a winning coalition before the primaries in Feburary next year. His spokesman, Rick Jasculca said the tour would be "very retail in its feel", trying to build "a one to one connection with people where they live and where they work." But he's already appointed political consultants (David Axelrod's old firm, as it happens) -- and there's a handy $1.2m left over from the campaign fund dating back to his Congressional days. He clearly knows how to run a successful campaign.

And a little of the old Obama magic, if he can find it, wouldn't go amiss either.

Felicity Spector is chief writer and American politics expert for Channel 4 News.

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Brexit is teaching the UK that it needs immigrants

Finally forced to confront the economic consequences of low migration, ministers are abandoning the easy rhetoric of the past.

Why did the UK vote to leave the EU? For conservatives, Brexit was about regaining parliamentary sovereignty. For socialists it was about escaping the single market. For still more it was a chance to punish David Cameron and George Osborne. But supreme among the causes was the desire to reduce immigration.

For years, as the government repeatedly missed its target to limit net migration to "tens of thousands", the EU provided a convenient scapegoat. The free movement of people allegedly made this ambition unachievable (even as non-European migration oustripped that from the continent). When Cameron, the author of the target, was later forced to argue that the price of leaving the EU was nevertheless too great, voters were unsurprisingly unconvinced.

But though the Leave campaign vowed to gain "control" of immigration, it was careful never to set a formal target. As many of its senior figures knew, reducing net migration to "tens of thousands" a year would come at an economic price (immigrants make a net fiscal contribution of £7bn a year). An OBR study found that with zero net migration, public sector debt would rise to 145 per cent of GDP by 2062-63, while with high net migration it would fall to 73 per cent. For the UK, with its poor productivity and sub-par infrastructure, immigration has long been an economic boon. 

When Theresa May became Prime Minister, some cabinet members hoped that she would abolish the net migration target in a "Nixon goes to China" moment. But rather than retreating, the former Home Secretary doubled down. She regards the target as essential on both political and policy grounds (and has rejected pleas to exempt foreign students). But though the same goal endures, Brexit is forcing ministers to reveal a rarely spoken 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. On last night's Question Time, Brexit secretary David Davis conceded that immigration woud not invariably fall following Brexit. "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."

Though Davis insisted that the government would eventually meet its "tens of thousands" target (while sounding rather unconvinced), he added: "The simple truth is that we have to manage this problem. You’ve got industry dependent on migrants. You’ve got social welfare, the national health service. You have to make sure they continue to work."

As my colleague Julia Rampen has charted, Davis's colleagues have inserted similar caveats. Andrea Leadsom, the Environment Secretary, who warned during the referendum that EU immigration could “overwhelm” Britain, has told farmers that she recognises “how important seasonal labour from the EU is to the everyday running of your businesses”. Others, such as the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, the Business Secretary, Greg Clark, and the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, have issued similar guarantees to employers. Brexit is fuelling immigration nimbyism: “Fewer migrants, please, but not in my sector.”

The UK’s vote to leave the EU – and May’s decision to pursue a "hard Brexit" – has deprived the government of a convenient alibi for high immigration. Finally forced to confront the economic consequences of low migration, ministers are abandoning the easy rhetoric of the past. Brexit may have been caused by the supposed costs of immigration but it is becoming an education in its benefits.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.