Tory MP Matthew Hancock accused of talking "nonsense" over missed Daybreak interview

Daybreak presenter says the MP, who overslept, was "much more than a minute late".

Given George Osborne's fondness for bemoaning those "sleeping off a life on benefits" there was amusement yesterday when it emerged that his former chief of staff, Matthew Hancock (read Rafael's profile of him here), missed an interview on ITV's Daybreak after he overslept. Hancock, who was due to discuss a new apprenticeship scheme for unemployed youths, was reportedly still in bed when his car arrived. The repentant Conservative MP wrote on Twitter: "I got 2 tv studio at 6:41 this am so missed 6:40 slot. You've got to be on time for work or there r consequences. I'll learn from my example".

But this morning Daybreak presenter Matt Barbet accused the skills minister of "spinning" and talking "nonsense". In a tweet addressed to the MP, he wrote: "Appreciate admission about missing us on @daybreak. Everyone oversleeps - but you know you were much more than a minute late."

He later added: "A minute after the interview starts is around 20-30 minutes later than when he should've been in the building preparing.

"Spinning it as if he was stopped from going on-air having just missed the time slot is nonsense."

We await confirmation as to whether Hancock's blinds were down this morning.

Conservative MP and skills minister Matthew Hancock at an interview he made on time.

George Eaton is political 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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