Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. I want to challenge power that is unaccountable (Guardian)

The unresponsive state can be as damaging as the untamed market, says Ed Miliband. We want people to be able to control their own lives.

2. It is a disgrace that there are so few women Conservative ministers. But that they are all white is even more so (Independent)

Diversity of late has been about gender parity, not about race or class, writes Yasmin Alibhai Brown. 

3. It’s too late to tell Scots to believe in Britain (Times)

Cameron’s plea for a strong and united nation rings hollow after so much loss of sovereignty, says Melanie Phillips. 

4. Abe’s nationalism takes a worrying turn (Financial Times)

The attempt to stifle Japan’s national broadcaster is deplorable, says an FT editorial. 

5. To do business with India and China, Britain needs to lose its imperial swagger (Guardian)

The sins of empire are still etched in the minds of many of the UK's global partners, writes Chris Huhne. Our soft power is the best antidote.

6. Banning smoking in cars is bizarre, intrusive – and right (Daily Telegraph)

Unusually for a libertarian free spirit, this time I’m with the bossyboots brigade, says Boris Johnson. 

7. The number of women sentenced to death across the Middle East has very little to do with justice (Independent)

Young women who have been killed in their thousands across the Middle Eastern region should be listed, at least in the afterworld, on some roll of martyrdom, writes Robert Fisk. 

8. Why aren't middle-aged women the face of angry protest? (Guardian)

Women over 50 face deep injustices, yet tend to stay silent in public, writes Melissa Benn. Let's hijack the news cycle with an act of wit and daring.

9. Some big ideas Labour might like to consider (Daily Telegraph)

The party has a few more sacred cows to slay – and apologies to make – before it can become a credible alternative voice, says a Telegraph editorial. 

10. The Fed’s waning magic in Yellen’s era (Financial Times)

With a forecast year of take-off in danger of faltering, the central bank has run out of ammunition, says Edward Luce.

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