The House of Commons voted on Palestine's status. Photo: Getty
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MPs overwhelmingly back Palestinian statehood in a historic vote

MPs have voted in favour of recognising Palestine as a state alongside Israel in a symbolic vote.

Yesterday evening, the House of Commons voted in favour of recognising Palestine as a state alongside Israel, in a symbolic motion serving as “a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution”.

Rarely do our politicians have the opportunity to vote on Israel/Palestine’s status, making the result of this vote – 274 to 12 – a historic moment.

However, less than half of our MPs took part in the vote, and government ministers – including the Prime Minister – abstained on the vote, showing the enduring controversy of the subject.

The motion, calling on the government to “recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel”, was put forward by the Labour MP Grahame Morris and amended by the former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

Following the result, Morris commented that this was a “small but symbolically important” step towards recognising Palestinian statehood.

However, not all MPs were happy with the situation. There were worries among the Labour whips about a rebellion, with one shadow minister telling the Telegraph that there had been a “cock-up” in party management. This was regarding the anger of some in the party that they were going to be compelled by their leadership to publicly back Palestine. In the end, Labour only enforced a one-line whip, meaning MPs in attendance were encouraged to vote in favour of the motion.

Here are the 12 MPs who voted against the motion:

Matthew Offord, Conservative MP for Hendon

Bob Blackman, Conservative MP for Harrow East

Jonathan Djanogly, Conservative MP for Huntingdon

Mike Freer, Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green

Nigel Mills, Conservative MP for Amber Valley

Robert Syms, Conservative MP for Poole

Nigel Dodds, DUP MP for North Belfast

William McCrea, DUP MP for South Antrim

Ian Paisley, DUP MP for North Antrim

Jim Shannon, DUP MP for Strangford

David Simpson, DUP MP for Upper Bann

Sir Alan Beith, Liberal Democrat MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

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Why Theresa May won't exclude students from the net migration target

The Prime Minister believes the public would view the move as "a fix". 

In a letter to David Cameron shortly after the last general election, Philip Hammond demanded that students be excluded from the net migration target. The then foreign secretary, who was backed by George Osborne and Sajid Javid, wrote: "From a foreign policy point of view, Britain's role as a world class destination for international students is a highly significant element of our soft power offer. It's an issue that's consistently raised with me by our foreign counterparts." Universities and businesses have long argued that it is economically harmful to limit student numbers. But David Cameron, supported by Theresa May, refused to relent. 

Appearing before the Treasury select committee yesterday, Hammond reignited the issue. "As we approach the challenge of getting net migration figures down, it is in my view essential that we look at how we do this in a way that protects the vital interests of our economy," he said. He added that "It's not whether politicians think one thing or another, it's what the public believe and I think it would be useful to explore that quesrtion." A YouGov poll published earlier this year found that 57 per cent of the public support excluding students from the "tens of thousands" target.

Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, has also pressured May to do so. But the Prime Minister not only rejected the proposal - she demanded a stricter regime. Rudd later announced in her conference speech that there would be "tougher rules for students on lower quality courses". 

The economic case for reform is that students aid growth. The political case is that it would make the net migration target (which has been missed for six years) easier to meet (long-term immigration for study was 164,000 in the most recent period). But in May's view, excluding students from the target would be regarded by the public as a "fix" and would harm the drive to reduce numbers. If an exemption is made for one group, others will inevitably demand similar treatment. 

Universities complain that their lobbying power has been reduced by the decision to transfer ministerial responsibility from the business department to education. Bill Rammell, the former higher education minister and the vice-chancellor of Bedfordshire, said in July: “We shouldn’t assume that Theresa May as prime minister will have the same restrictive view on overseas students that Theresa May the home secretary had”. Some Tory MPs hoped that the net migration target would be abolished altogether in a "Nixon goes to China" moment.

But rather than retreating, May has doubled-down. The Prime Minister regards permanently reduced migration as essential to her vision of a more ordered society. She believes the economic benefits of high immigration are both too negligible and too narrow. 

Her ambition is a forbidding one. Net migration has not been in the "tens of thousands" since 1997: when the EU had just 15 member states and the term "BRICS" had not even been coined. But as prime minister, May is determined to achieve what she could not as home secretary. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.