Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The NHS at 65: chaos, queues and mounting costs (Guardian)

What national healthcare in Britain looks like in 10 years' time depends more on the future of politics than on economics, writes Polly Toynbee.

2. How Carney can succeed in his mission (Financial Times)

Even if he can perform no miracles, the new BoE governor may prove a lucky one, says Martin Wolf.

3. Miliband must defeat Labour’s union barons (Times)

Could it look any worse for Ed – losing control of his party to a public sector union that demands an end to cuts, asks Philip Collins.

4. Coup in Cairo is a rude awakening (Financial Times)

The help the region needs is not of the type the west has been giving, writes Philip Stephens.

5. Tory union-bashing may come at a price (Daily Telegraph)

Attacks on Unite could alienate those workers who are also natural Conservative voters, says Isabel Hardman.

6. Forcing down Evo Morales's plane was an act of air piracy (Guardian)

Denying the Bolivian president air space was a metaphor for the gangsterism that now rules the world, says John Pilger.

7. Paying for Pensions (Times)

The over-60s have been least affected by austerity, notes a Times editorial. But the triple lock on pensions is no longer affordable.

8. It is capitalism, not democracy, that the Arab world needs most (Daily Telegraph)

Property rights for aid: this could be the most effective anti-poverty strategy in history, says Fraser Nelson.

9. How the unions got Red Ed in a headlock (Daily Mail)

Any Labour candidate for either council or parliamentary elections must now be a member of a trade union, writes Andrew Pierce. 

10. When is a military coup not a military coup? When it happens in Egypt, apparently (Independent)

Those Western leaders who are telling us Egypt is still on the path to “democracy” have to remember that Morsi was indeed elected in a real, Western-approved election, writes Robert Fisk.

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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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