Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Now Republicans face the five stages of political grief (Guardian)

Every defeated party has to travel from denial to acceptance. At least in Mitt Romney's case the loss was unequivocal, writes Jonathan Freedland.

2. Justin Welby: oilman with a new calling (Financial Times)

The new Archbishop of Canterbury will do well to unite the Church's warring factions, says Matthew Engel.

3. A very good morning for this Prime Minister (Times) (£)

Quiet rage was the right response to Phillip Schofield, argues Matthew Parris.

4. Police commissioner elections are the first step on road to corruption (Guardian)

 

The Tories are pushing for private companies to take over major police roles, with insufficient safeguards, argues Yvette Cooper.
 
 
For all their fractiousness, they really are all in it together, says Andrew Martin.
 
 
Soon, China's leadership transitions will be attracting as much attention as America's, writes David Pilling.
 
 
Going on reality TV is mere idiocy. A political system friendly to corruption is what we should be worrying about, says Tanya Gold.
 
 
The poorest farmers in Africa are more advanced than the Burmese. Let the Coca-Cola consumerism begin, writes Janice Turner.
 
9. Farewell to our warrior nation (Daily Telegraph)
 
The Government is making huge cuts to the Army, Royal Navy and RAF in the mistaken belief that they no longer matter, says Max Hastings.
 
 
The "timeliness" of new play NSFW has nothing to do with Savile, argues Tom Sutcliffe.
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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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