How Brooks tried to destroy the Guardian

How is this phone hacking thing going to end? Rebekah Brooks: "With Alan Rusbridger on his knees, be

Rebekah Brooks said that the phone-hacking scandal would end with Guardian editor "Alan Rusbridger on his knees, begging for mercy", according to Nick Davies in this week's Media Talk podcast over at the Guardian. Davies continues: "They would have destroyed us. If they could have done, they would have shut down the Guardian."

Elsewhere in the podcast, Rusbridger talks about the resistence to covering the scandal from within Fleet Street. "I was told from time to time that this was not helpful for Fleet Street," said Rusbridger. "The only thing that was going to damage Fleet Street was the failure to deal with this seriously. If the PCC had acted in 2009. . . then I think the News of the World would still be alive."

The general gist of the podcast is: "Ha, ha, we were right!" You can hardly blame them. People who should know better repeatedly told the Guardian that they were on a hiding to nothing, and yet we are now staring at a scandal that has brought down Britain's most read newspaper, revealed widespread corruption in the police and shaken the Prime Minister. The Guardian deserves its moment in the sun.

Listen to the whole podcast here.

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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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