Nigel Farage and Douglas Carswell visit Clacton today, where Roger Lord wants to remain a candidate. Photo: Getty
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Roger Lord, Ukip's original Clacton candidate, may defect to the Tories

Ukip's Clacton candidate, who is refusing to give way to Douglas Carswell, is now considering defecting himself - to the Conservative party.

In a teetering-on-tedious game of what appears to be right-wing swapsies, the initial Ukip candidate for Clacton, Roger Lord (who was a Conservative party member in the past) has hinted on LBC that he may defect to the Tories.

Douglas Carswell, MP for Clacton, yesterday defected from the Conservatives to Ukip, and is triggering a by-election. But Lord has insisted that he wants to remain a candidate for Clacton, and won't step aside for him. He said yesterday:

It's pretty arrogant of Douglas Carswell to assume that the voters and the electorate are like sheep and they will just go along with this.

I genuinely hope that the national executive of Ukip will hear me out. For starters though It's pure bad manners for someone from Ukip who I have never met to just ring me up and tell me to shut up.

Now, Lord has told LBC that he is considering doing a reverse-Douglas and joining the Tories instead, to be the Conservative candidate for the Clacton by-election. Here's the clip:

Would you go back to the Conservatives if they made you the right sort of approach?

It's gotta be a damn good deal, a damn good deal.

But it's a possible, is it?

It's a possible, but we shall see. Douglas Carswell's still got the opportunity to do a deal, OK?

...

Have the Tories been in touch?

Sorry, you're breaking up, due to the wind...

I personally think the best part of this interview is when Lord says, "I know what's happening in South America" and the presenter James O'Brien goes "ooh!"

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at 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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