Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Margaret Thatcher's Britain: we still live in the land Maggie built (Guardian)

The coalition is maintaining Thatcher's project of rolling back the frontiers of the state, dismantling the settlement that held from 1945 until it unravelled in the 1970s, writes Jonathan Freedland.

2. Marvel at Mrs Thatcher – the outsider who beat the system (Daily Telegraph)

Unlike most politicians today, she had courage, integrity and a clear sense who she was, says Peter Oborne. 

3. The Iron Lady towers over modern Britain (Financial Times)

Thatcher’s legacy is not order – though that was a precious achievement – but freedom, says Janan Ganesh.

4. Margaret Thatcher: the lady and the land she leaves behind (Guardian)

Her legacy is public division, private selfishness and a cult of greed that together shackle the human spirit, says a Guardian editorial.

5. How Thatcher restored Britain’s optimism (Times)

Children will study the former Prime Minister in the same way they study Elizabeth I, Cromwell and Churchill, writes George Osborne.

6. Margaret Thatcher broke Britain and replaced it with something crueller and nastier (Daily Mirror)

Many of the problems experienced today on bleak estates – joblessness, drugs, despair and hopelessness – can be traced back to her disastrous premiership, says a Daily Mirror editorial.

7. They underrated her, and always paid the price (Daily Telegraph)

Thatcher was not regarded as much of a threat by Labour when she became Tory leader in 1975, says David Owen. 

8. Thatcherism was a national catastrophe that still poisons us (Independent)

We are in the midst of the third great economic collapse since the Second World War: all three have taken place since Thatcherism launched its great crusade, writes Owen Jones.

9. This is a solemn and awesome moment in the history of our people, and we must mark it accordingly (Daily Mail)

Our nation pays no higher tribute to its great men and women than to accord them a state funeral, writes Simon Heffer. By any standards, Margaret Thatcher must have one.

10. The Lloyds workers are paying for their bosses' catastrophe (Guardian)

Average Lloyds employees face hardship and redundancy, writes Aditya Chakrabortty. Meanwhile, those that led them into this mess are thriving.

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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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