Fox hunting

What the papers are saying about the beleaguered defence secretary.

With the Prime Minister asking for the preliminary findings of an inquiry into Liam Fox's working relationship with Adam Werritty to be on his desk tomorrow morning, the position of the defence secretary looks precarious. This morning, the Observer produces video footage of Fox's meeting with the president of Sri Lanka last year at which Werritty was present, and which appears to contradict the defence secretary's earlier insistence that his friend and former flatmate had never attended any meetings with representatives of foreign governments.

The press pack has the scent of its quarry in its nostrils. Here's what the papers are saying about Mr Fox today.

Observer

Emails and video footage pile pressure on beleaguered Liam Fox: Film of Sri Lankan meeting and email exchange between friend and businessman undermine defence secretary's prior claims.

Sunday Times (£)

Cameron demands truth as Fox fights to keep defence job: The prime minister has launched an investigation into whether Liam Fox compromised national security by giving special access to his best man.

Sunday Telegraph

Liam Fox: I have nothing to hide over links with aide: Liam Fox has mounted a fightback in a bid to save his Cabinet job in a row over his working relationship with his self-styled adviser, Adam Werritty.

The questions Liam Fox must answer about his friend Adam Werritty.

Independent on Sunday

Fox adviser is involved in arms deals, says MoD source.

Jonathan Derbyshire is Managing Editor of Prospect. He was formerly Culture 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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