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Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Europe needs reform but Britain belongs at its heart (Financial Times)

An arbitrary timetable for a vote on leaving the EU would undermine the real priorities, writes Ed Miliband.

2. Bob Crow was a daily reminder that workers can win (Guardian)

 The RMT leader was a hero because he was authentic, and had no other master than those who elected him, says George Galloway. His death leaves a huge gap.

3. The world has stopped listening to Hague (Times)

The Foreign Secretary should have resigned when MPs rejected his Syrian policy, says Roger Boyes.

4. Bob Crow leaves behind a union movement fighting for survival (Daily Telegraph)

Politicians of left and right are desperate to colonise working people and their communities, writes Mary Riddell. 

5. The spectre of eurozone deflation (Financial Times)

The ECB is failing, writes Martin Wolf. The aim must be to raise inflation, particularly in surplus countries.

6. Bob Crow: an unlikely capitalist (Daily Telegraph)

The RMT leader espoused socialism but did not subscribe to the new left’s snooty disdain for materialism, says a Telegraph editorial. 

7. After Yalta, we can’t betray Ukraine yet again (Times)

The people are crying out for freedom, writes Daniel Finkelstein. We have a duty to respond to their plea, not be cowed by Putin’s aggression.

8. UKIP funding is only an issue because the Establishment is running scared (Independent)

Yet more laughable is the idea our HQ is staffed by weirdos who spend all day in the pub, writes Nigel Farage. 

9. Lie detectors are a hocus-pocus tool for our distrusting state (Guardian)

Buying voice risk analysis tools to root out benefit fraud conceals a darker purpose: to undermine claimants' credibility, says Zoe Williams.

10. As next week’s Budget approaches, ignore anything worth less than £5bn – it’s economically irrelevant (Independent)

Politicians think voters have no idea of the numbers and will react with emotion, writes Hamish McRae.

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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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