Miliband ally Peter Hain heading for the exit?

"His departure will open up the way for new blood in the shadow cabinet."

The Sunday Telegraph's Patrick Hennessy has some interesting quotes on the immediate future of shadow Welsh secretary Peter Hain. Labour sources tell Hennessy:

Peter wants to leave the front bench on a high. We did very well in local elections in Wales this month and he can take a large part of the credit for that.

He is one of the biggest fans of Ed [Miliband] and what he is trying to do, but his departure will open up the way for new blood in the shadow cabinet.

Hain, 62, is one of Miliband's closest advisors, backed him for the leadership in 2010, and has been intimately involved in the party's policy review. 

If Hain does leave, will Miliband use the opportunity to overhaul his shadow team or simply swap Hain for another Welsh-based MP such as Chris Bryant or Owen Smith? Just how much "new blood" is Miliband willing to risk?

 

Ed Miliband with Peter Hain during Miliband's leadership campaign, 9 June 2010. Credit: Getty Images

Jon Bernstein, former deputy editor of New Statesman, is a digital strategist and editor. He tweets @Jon_Bernstein. 

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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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