Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. What Titanium Ed Miliband and the Iron Lady have in common (Daily Telegraph)

With his love of bold ideas, the Labour leader is a pretender to the Thatcher legacy, writes Mary Riddell.

2. Cameron cannot revive Thatcherism (Financial Times)

The alliance of beliefs that formed an ideology no longer exists, says Richard Vinen.

3. After the bomb, mass hysteria is the Boston terrorist's greatest weapon (Guardian)

A Chinese proverb bids us ask what the enemy most wants us to do, writes Simon Jenkins. Boston's bomber craves publicity, reaction and retaliation.

4. How central banks beat deflation (Financial Times)

The success of inflation targeting gives policy makers room to risk expansionary measures, says Martin Wolf.

5. Today we bury the last prime minister of WWII (Times) (£)

Margaret Thatcher’s world view was formed by the fight against Hitler, writes Daniel Finkelstein. Now her generation has finally left the stage.

6. Boston bombings: resilience in the face of horror (Guardian)

Pressure for answers will inevitably grow, but what matters is due process, and answers that can stand up in court, says a Guardian editorial.

7. The 'socialist firebrand' Derek Hatton screwed Liverpool just as much as Margaret Thatcher did (Independent)

Thatcher may have neglected Liverpool in the first half of the 1980s, but Hatton and Militant’s grip on my city set progress back a generation, says Jane Merrick.

8. What Cameron must learn from the Lady (Daily Mail)

What Thatcher understood so well is that votes flow from doing what is right – not from merely trying to be popular, says a Daily Mail editorial.

9. It's time to bury not just Thatcher – but Thatcherism (Guardian)

She didn't save Britain or turn the economy round, says Seumas Milne. We need to break with her failed model to escape its baleful consequences.

10. Like the French, our ministers should declare their assets (Independent)

Where François Hollande has led, David Cameron should follow, says an Independent editorial.

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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.