Show Hide image

Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. It's the cumulative impact of benefit cuts that is shocking (Guardian)

Disabled people are the worst hit of any group by myriad welfare changes that relentlessly reduce already meagre incomes, writes Zoe Williams. 

2. Why the Archbishop of Westminster is wrong about welfare (Daily Telegraph)

Our plan for Britain is not just about saving money, but about doing what is right, says David Cameron.

3. Neglect pre-school education and we will all be the poorer (Daily Telegraph)

Britains's youngsters are falling behind and our shambolic nursery system is partly to blame, says Mary Riddell. 

4. High price of ignoring risks of catastrophe (Financial Times)

Models of climate change all but assume it cannot have a huge effect on the economy, writes Robin Harding.

5. Who will replace David Cameron as Tory leader? Maybe a man you don't expect (Guardian)

Boris Johnson, George Osborne and Theresa May are all favourites, but a rank outsider, who models himself on Michael Gove, could pip the lot of them, writes Ian Birrell. 

6. We’re in a mess. We must know who to blame (Times)

Response to the floods and the Ofsted row both show that public appointments should be more political, not less, says Daniel Finkelstein. 

7. The trouble with the economic recovery is it mainly benefits those already doing well (Independent)

We are setting up trouble, as you can see most obviously in the property market, says Hamish McRae. 

8. Sometimes a polite letter can be a pistol shot (Daily Telegraph)

It has taken a retired Australian judge to show us how to deal with Kim Jong-un's atrocities in North Korea, says Colin Freeman. 

9. Failing states such as Syria deserve to fail (Times)

There is so much hatred inside some national borders that divorce can be the only solution, writes Roger Boyes.

10. Let schools compete to aid students (Financial Times)

Competition between schools lifts grades, write Gabriel Sahlgren and Julian Le Grand.

Getty
Show Hide image

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.

0800 7318496