Morning call: the pick of the papers

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

1. Viscount Astor, you really are a class apart (Observer)

The rich bleat that times are hard and there's a socialist conspiracy to rob them of their wealth and property. Nonsense, says Nick Cohen.

2. There's more to politics than nice v nasty (Sunday Telegraph)

Newt Gingrich's attack on Mitt Romney was not merely a longing for revenge, says Janet Daley.

3. What a tragic wasted opportunity to present a true portrait of the Iron Lady (Observer)

Phyllida Lloyd has really missed a trick with her film about Margaret Thatcher, writes Stewart Lee.

4. This is new all right. It just isn't enough (Independent on Sunday)

Labour's acceptance yesterday of the Tory case for cuts is welcome, but Miliband and Balls still look like a losing team, says John Rentoul.

5. Mitt's Big Love (New York Times)

Democrats and independents may have fallen out of love with President Obama, but Republicans and independents can't fall in love with Mitt Romney, writes Maureen Dowd.

6. The Lords are the only decent politicians left (Mail on Sunday)

Suzanne Moore on the Welfare Reform Bill.

7. Looks do count, Ed, but it's conviction that voters like most (Independent on Sunday)

Janet Street-Porter claims that Miliband exudes desperation, and that's never an appealing quality in any man.

8. A tale of two Camerons and a return to Victorian values (Sunday Telegraph)

HS2 demonstrates how the PM's visionary instincts are prevailing over his love of the countryside, writes Matthew D'Ancona.

9. Why is Europe a dirty word? (New York Times)

Quelle horreur! One of the uglier revelations about President Obama emerging from the Republican primaries is that he is trying to turn the United States into Europe, writes Nicholas Kristof.

10. Ken Clarke is ready to betray 800 years of British justice (Observer)

The security and justice green paper threatens to deprive us of one of the vital traditions of common law, writes Henry Porter.

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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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