Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. If Dave cuts a deal with Ukip I'm outta here (Times)

Matthew Parris loses patience with Cameron's flakiness in the face of Farage.

2. David Cameron isn't a disaster, yet I long for a radical new leader (Telegraph)

Charles Moore doubts the Prime Minister is up to the great challenges of the era.

3. Don't be fooled by Google's Prius-driving baby-facery (Guardian)

Young tech entrepreneurs promised a different kind of business, says Marine Hyde. Their tax affairs tell a different story.

4. The generation that's going backwards (Times)

Gavin Kelly on a suffocating squeeze for workers and a joyless recovery in the economy.

5. The Battle for Britain (Guardian)

John Harris goes on safari in Ukip country.

6. Britain's looming energy crisis (FT)

Leader columns warns that the government's bill won't necessarily keep the lights on.

7. To encourage creativity, Mr Gove, you must first understand what it is (Guardian)

The new national curriculum, warns Ken Robinson, is a dead hand on the creative pulse of children and teachers.

8. A serious contender? The grey man who could be Cameron's nemesis (Daily Mail)

Simon Heffer gets excited about Philip Hammond.

9. The next coalition? Why Ed Miliband may need Nick Clegg's number (Independent)

Peter Hain tells Andy Grice that a Lib-Lab pact in another hung parliament is on the cards.

10. Dangerous talk of arrogant Frogs and the heartless Boche (FT)

Tony Barber scratches beneath the surface fo Europe's appetite for national stereotypes.

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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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