Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers

  1. Mass surveillance wouldn't have saved the life of Drummer Rigby (Observer)

    The introduction of a communications data bill wouldn't have prevented last week's shocking murder of Lee Rigby, writes Henry Porter.

  2. Yes, I’m a smartphone Nazi, so stop that tippety-tap now (Sunday Times)

    The older I get the more that silence seems far more eloquent and articulate than the frenzied voices that crowd it out, writes Andrew Sullivan

  3. David Cameron isn't even among friends in his own cabinet now (Observer)

    Already wounded by battles with backbenchers, the prime minister is faced with a revolt by ministers over cuts, writes Andrew Rawnsley.

  4. Angela Merkel is David Cameron's new best friend for ever (Independent on Sunday)

    Beyond her general competence, most British people know very little of the German Chancellor, writes John Rentoul.

  5. Twitter at its worst is not Bercow, but the braying mob (**)

    The Twitter villains are the bullies who feel scant responsibility and a lack of interest in fairness, writes Barbara Ellen.

  6. Doctors took the easy option, and lost our respect (Sunday Telegraph)

    GPs have changed, but the government is partly to blame, writes Anthony Daniels.

  7. Why Cameron told MI5: ‘I know you are not to blame’ (Mail on Sunday)

    Inside Number 10, the view is that some reassurance can actually be drawn from the fact that the attackers were known to the authorities, and might even have been contacted by them, writes James Forsyth.

  8. Even for liberals, Obama has crossed a line (Sunday Telegraph)

    Those who have spoken out against the President’s expansion of government power have been investigated and intimidated, writes Janet Daley.

  9. Did we learn so little about jihadism from the 7/7 bombings? (Independent on Sunday)

    In Woolwich, the police were too slow off the mark and the politicians got the wrong end of the stick. Both groups need to focus hard, writes Crispin Black.

  10. A tip for the untaxables: give your cash away (Sunday Times)

    In these straitened times the mood has changed to recrimination. I pay my taxes. You avoid yours. They — the rich or big business — are doing evil, writes Adam Boulton.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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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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