It's Jeremy Paxman's last night on Newsnight. Photo: Getty
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It's Jeremy Paxman's last night on Newsnight: here are his best moments

Whether he's being fierce and feisty, grumpy and grouchy, or beardy and bubbly, Jeremy Paxman is a memorable Newsnight presenter. To celebrate his last appearance on the show tonight, here are his best bits...

1. Silvio Berlusconi: "Is it true you called Angela Merkel an unfuckable lard-arse?" (2014)

Worth watching for the casual frankness with which Paxman asks the former Italian premier about the choice words he apparently used about the German chancellor:


2. Russell Brand: "Grow it longer, tangle it into your armpit hair" (2013)

A modern classic. Brand ribs Paxman about his beard, and Paxman decides his interview subject is "a very trivial man" - but it's clear he likes him really:


3. Chloe Smith: "Do you ever think you're incompetent?" (2012)

When the Chancellor sacrificed his junior minister on the altar of Newsnight for a fuel duty u-turn, it jettisoned the one-time "rising star's" burgeoning political career:

4. Conrad Black: "You are a convicted fraudster" (2012)

Paxman and the former media baron clash as he is questioned over allegations against him. "Will you stop this bourgeois priggishness?" Black spits at one point:

 

5. Boris Johnson: "Tell us how much it would cost" (2008)

Then a London Mayoral candidate, Boris refused 12 times to answer a question about buses:


6. George Galloway: "Are you proud of having got rid of one of the very few black women in parliament?" (2005)

A combative interview with the Respect MP after he famously defeated Oona King in Bethnal Green and Bow:


7. Tony Blair: "I'm just trying to explore the sort of chap you are" (2003)

Paxman goes for the then-prime minister on his "religious conviction":

8. Michael Howard: "Did you threaten to overrule him?" (1997)

Probably Paxo's most notoriously Paxman-like political interview, in which he asks the then-home secretary twelve times whether he threatened to overrule the director general of HM Prison Service.

UPDATE:

Here's what happened on Jeremy Paxman's last night:

He rode on a tandem with Boris

Not sure why.

He mocked the weather report

In an in-joke about his serial derisive attitude to having to tell us the weather, Paxman said: "Tomorrow's weather: more of the same. Don't know why they make such a fuss about it."

He asked Michael Howard ONE LAST TIME

As a nod to his infamous interview with the then-Home Secretary, in which he asked him the same question 12 times "Did you threaten to overrule him?", Howard popped up during the show, and Paxman asked "Did you?" "No, but feel free to ask me another 11 times", came the reply.


He gave one of his classic beleagured-politician put-downs

Ed Milliband is as "popular as a flatulent dog in a lift", he told us with a sneer.


He was low-key about his departure

Paxman had said he wanted "no fuss" about him leaving, but that didn't quite materialise what with the nostalgia and silliness that peppered the programme. But he signed off in an understated manner: "Thank you for watching. I hope you go on enjoying the programme. Goodnight and goodbye."

I'm a mole, innit.

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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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