In Depth

Theresa May rejects calls to increase Indian visa quota

Prime Minister says UK already has a 'good system' as she visits Delhi to foster post-Brexit trade links

Theresa May mulls new restrictions for foreign student visas

25 July 2016

Prime Minister Theresa May has backed calls to restrict student visas as part of a fresh crackdown on immigration.

It comes amid concerns that universities have become an "easy route into Britain for migrants who want to work", says the Daily Telegraph.

Government sources say the Home Office and Department for Education will examine the student visa regime to see where criteria can be tightened.

The new PM last week reaffirmed her target of reducing "net migration" to below 100,000 and suggested targeting "Mickey Mouse" degrees at poorly performing universities as a way to reduce immigrant numbers.

What impact could this have?

The National Union of Students said the UK's student visa regime is already one of the "toughest and least welcoming in the world" and the higher education sector will lose out on "hundreds of thousands of international students" if it is further tightened, reports The Independent.

May is "preparing to devastate more lives by raising feelings of suspicion and distrust", said NUS international officer Mostafa Rajaai.

There is also the financial cost, especially once the UK leaves the European Union. Students from the European Economic Area (EEA) do not need a visa to study in the UK, but this could change after Brexit. Universities UK calculates that fees paid by EU students totalled £600m in 2014-15 and that students from Europe spend £1.49bn a year on expenses such as rent and subsistence.

How will Brexit affect UK students abroad?

British students now face exclusion "from one of the glowing successes of EU membership", says The Guardian, after the UK director of the Erasmus exchange programme, Ruth Sinclair-Jones, said continued participation could not be guaranteed after 2017.

"We face a sad moment of uncertainty, after 30 years of this enrichment of so many lives," she said.

Exclusion from Erasmus, which has benefited more than two million students since it was set up in 1987, would also have what one vice chancellor called "a stunning impact" on university finances, alongside the crisis facing funds for science, research and other grants, adds the Guardian.

There are currently 120,000 students from EU countries at UK universities, of which 27,401 are there under the Erasmus scheme, with their fees paid by the EU.

What was May's record as home secretary?

During her time at the Home Office, May "attempted to curb the number of visas for students coming to the UK on further education courses", says The Independent, but was widely condemned after allegations she might have wrongly deported up to 50,000 international students following an English test-cheating scam.

In March, the Upper Tribunal (Asylum and Immigration Chamber), which handles applications for judicial review of Home Office decisions, ruled her evidence suffered from "multiple frailties and shortcomings".

Theresa May's first PMQs: A Thatcheresque performance

20 July

Theresa May stunned political commentators with a formidable performance in her first Prime Minister's Questions this afternoon.

"Is someone putting something in May's tea?" tweeted the BBC's assistant political editor Norman Smith. "First she culls the Cabinet. Now she goes on the warpath at PMQs."

The newly appointed Prime Minister held no punches during her debut at the despatch box, repeatedly mocking Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for the crisis engulfing his party.

After Corbyn congratulated her on becoming the second female prime minister, she responded: "I've long heard Labour asking what the Conservative Party does for women. Well. It just keeps making us PM."

She then used the Labour leader's question about job security to suggest Corbyn himself was an "unscrupulous boss", sparking huge laughter and applause from the Tory benches.

"A boss who doesn't listen to his workers, a boss who asks workers to double their workload, a boss who exploits the rules?" she said, before lowering her voice and staring directly at Corbyn: "Remind you of anyone?"

"For a first performance it was pretty blooming formidable," says the BBC's Smith, while his colleague John Pienaar thought Corbyn did "reasonably well in the circumstances".

May "continues to exceed expectations", says the London Evening Standard's Joe Murphy, adding that there are lots of happy Tory MPs walking around Westminster this afternoon.

The Spectator's James Forsyth agrees, saying May "wiped the floor" with her opposite number. "May was utterly brutal [and] once again Corbyn's problem was his inability to think on his feet," he says.

But not everyone was as impressed. "I'm less convinced than some by May at PMQs," tweeted The Guardian's Peter Walker. "Playing to jeers/cheers of Tory MPs goes well in Commons, but think can jar to watching public."

The Daily Mirror concludes: "The Labour leader ploughs a worthy field but he must find a better way of presenting his case."

Theresa May's new Cabinet: Brexit brigade takes shape

15 July

In the hours since Theresa May has chosen her cabinet, the new Prime Minister's vision for a post-Brexit Britain is starting to take shape.

The appointment of hardline Eurosceptics David Davis, the minister charged with taking Britain out of the EU, Dr Liam Fox, International Trade Secretary, and Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary "signals an intent to quickly push ahead with divorce negotiations", says the Wall Street Journal.

Johnson has promised "more Britain abroad and a greater global profile", while new Chancellor Phillip Hammond said yesterday that the UK will not seek to remain a full member of the single market, ruling out a Norway-style arrangement within the European Economic Area.

But the Brexit Secretary "appears unaware how EU trade deals work", says The Independent, after suggesting Britain would negotiate individual arrangements with other EU countries, including food and wine deals with France, access to German car markets and Italian fashion exports, something that is prohibited under EU regulations.

Infographic by www.statista.com for TheWeek.co.uk.

Theresa May's new Cabinet as it happens: Gove out, Leadsom in, Crabb resigns

14 July

15.45pm: Theresa May's former leadership rival Andrea Leadsom has been promoted from energy minister to the Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

James Brokenshire is Northern Ireland Secretary and Chris Grayling is Transport Secretary. Greg Clarke, who was secretary of state for communities and local government, appears to have swapped roles with Sajid Javid, the former business secretary. However, Clarke's new title is said to be Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary.

Who's in and who's out?

IN:

Chancellor Philip Hammond

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson

Home Secretary Amber Rudd

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon (remains in post)

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (remains in post)

Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis

Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox

Justice Secretary Liz Truss

Education Secretary Justine Greening

Party chairman Patrick McLoughlin

Chief whip Gavin Williamson

Leader of the Lords Baroness Evans

Defra Secretary Andrea Leadsom

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Greg Clarke

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid

Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns (remains in post)

Scottish Secretary David Mundell (remains in post)

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley

Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green

OUT:

Chancellor George Osborne

Justice secretary Michael Gove

Education secretary Nicky Morgan

Culture secretary John Whittingdale

Cabinet office minister Oliver Letwin

Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers (resigned)

Work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb (resigned)

Chief whip Mark Harper (resigned)

14.15pm: Stephen Crabb, one of the four contenders to lose out to Theresa May in the Tory leadership race, has resigned as work and pensions secretary, saying it was "in the best interests of my family".

A devout Christian and married father of two, Crabb based his campaign on his strong "values" and integrity, but has since faced accusations by The Times that he sent a series of "sexually charged" messages to a young woman via WhatsApp.

Theresa Villiers, who was secretary of state for Northern Ireland, has also resigned from the Cabinet. May was "kind enough" to offer her a role, she said, but "it was not one which I felt I could take on".

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is one of the only Cabinet ministers to hold on to his role, despite rumours he would be moved, tweeted: "'Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated...' Thrilled to be back in the best job in government."

Chris Grayling, who led May's leadership campaign, has just entered Downing Street.

12.50pm: Jeremy Hunt has held onto his post as Health Secretary, amid a large-scale Cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Theresa May. It was rumoured he would lose the post or be moved to a different Cabinet role, but he emerged from Downing Street this afternoon with his brief intact. 

Meanwhile, Patrick McLoughlin has moved from transport secretary to Conservative Party chairman, Liz Truss has been named Justice Secretary and Justine Greening has become the first Tory Education Secretary to be educated at a comprehensive school.

Cabinet office minister Oliver Letwin has been sacked and Gavin Williamson was named chief whip.

So far there are fewer women being promoted to the Cabinet than expected, BBC Norman Smith says.

The one thing everyone has been struck by is the scale of the reshuffle, he added: "This isn't just a little nip and tuck. This is wholesale surgery." 

We are seeing a "dismantling" of the so-called "Notting Hill set", continued Smith, with Gove, Letwin and former chancellor George Osborne out.

May is sending the message that "this is not 'Carry on Cameron', this is an entirely new government", he said.

10.45am: Theresa May has begun her first full day as Prime Minister by sacking Michael Gove as justice secretary. It comes after he was accused of "treachery" during the Tory leadership race, withdrawing his support for Boris Johnson at the last minute and putting himself forward for the top role.

Nicky Morgan and John Whittingdale have also lost their posts in the Cabinet. Morgan said she was "disappointed" not to be continuing as education secretary and minister for women and equalities, which she described as "two wonderful roles", while Whittingdale said it had been a "privilege" to serve as culture secretary and wished his replacement "every success".

Richard Vaughan, from the Times Educational Supplement, said there are now "strong rumours" that Justine Greening is in line for education secretary.

The Times columnist Tim Montgomerie says May is a "very ruthless cookie".

8.30am:

The former London mayor was named Foreign Secretary, replacing Philip Hammond - considered "the ultimate safe pair of hands" - who is now Chancellor of the Exchequer after George Osborne was sacked and relegated to the backbenches.

David Davis returned to cabinet for the first time in eight years in the newly created post of Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, while Liam Fox, who was forced to stand down in 2011, is now the International Trade Secretary.

Former energy secretary Amber Rudd has been elevated to Home Secretary, becoming the third woman in the post Michael Fallon will stay on as Defence Secretary, a role he has held since 2014.

Speaking outside No 10 yesterday evening, the new PM delivered a message of unity and justice.

"The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours. We will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives," said May.

However, while her language was "centrist and conciliatory", May's first cabinet appointments "suggested a shift to the right", says The Guardian.

The PM is expected to announce at least another 13 cabinet appointments today and tomorrow.

Theresa May to be prime minister: Five big questions

12 July

Theresa May tomorrow becomes the 54th British prime minister since the office was created in 1721 and the second woman to do the job. Here are some of the big questions she faces:

How will she unify the party and the country?

This looks likely to be one of May's toughest tasks. The EU referendum divided families and communities into Remainers and Brexiters, but also has the potential to divide the UK if Scotland holds another independence referendum. May's own party has also been split along Brexit lines. She has promised to bring "strong, proven leadership to steer us through what will be difficult and uncertain economic and political times" and says: "We need a strong, new positive vision for the future of our country – a vision of a country that works not for the privileged few, but that works for every one of us."

When will she take the UK out of the EU?

May eased some Brexiter nerves by saying she will honour the referendum result and take Britain out of the EU. However, she will not trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the formal process for leaving the European Union, until 2017.

Who will be in the cabinet?

Expect a cabinet to be swiftly appointed, says the Daily Telegraph's Asa Bennett. He suggests Business Secretary Sajid Javid might become chancellor, with the possibility of George Osborne then becoming chief Brexit minister. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is also a favourite to be No 11's next resident.

Michael Fallon, the "unflappable" Defence Secretary, could take up May's former role as home secretary, adds Bennett, while one of her rivals for the Tory leadership - Michael Gove or Liam Fox - might be in with a chance of taking the Foreign Office brief.

Chris Grayling, who chaired May's campaign, is also likely to be given a top role, perhaps as home secretary or deputy prime minister, says The Guardian's Rowena Mason. "Karen Bradley, James Brokenshire, Mark Harper and Damian Green all worked for May in the Home Office and could be in line for cabinet promotions or senior minister of state jobs if some room is cleared at the top," she adds.

What will May's priorities be?

"No new PM in the modern era will have entered Downing Street with an in-tray as full and fateful as hers," says The Times. "She will have to reconcile her desire to 'make sure our economy works for everyone', which depends on growth, with Brexit, which is likely to hurt it."

May has pitched herself as a champion of the "left behind" in society and in a speech yesterday, laid out a radical series of proposals that seemed to draw on ideas from the left as much as from the right.

Among these were commitments to take on "vested interests", calls for workers to be represented on company boards, plans to stop banks and energy companies exploiting consumers, curbs on excessive executive pay, promoting Treasury-backed project bonds for infrastructure (something long advocated by those on the Labour left) and reviving the idea of "stakeholder capitalism".

What happens to Larry the cat?

Tabby cat Larry, entrusted with the rat-catching portfolio on Downing Street since he was rehomed from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in 2011, is a civil servant's cat and does not belong to the Camerons, so will not be leaving with them. "He will be staying," a Cabinet Office spokeswoman said.

Infographic by www.statista.com for TheWeek.co.uk.

Andrea Leadsom quits the Tory leadership election: What happens next?

11 July

Andrea Leadsom has pulled out of the Conservative leadership race, leaving Theresa May as the only candidate for Tory leader and prime minister.

Described now as the "prime minister in waiting", May is currently on her way back to London from Birmingham, where she launched her bid for leadership this morning.

Leadsom came under fire this weekend after appearing to suggest that she would make a better leader than May because she had children.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph yesterday, Leadsom admitted that she had been crying and said she felt "under attack, under enormous pressure". "It has been shattering," she said.

A source close to the energy minister told the BBC this morning that "the abuse has been too great".

What did Leadsom say this morning?

In Westminster, Leadsom told reporters that she had written to Graham Brady, the chairman of the Conservatives' 1922 Committee, saying she was withdrawing from the leadership election.

She noted that May carried more than 60 per cent of the support from the Parliamentary party, while she had less than 25 per cent.

"After careful consideration I do not believe this is sufficient support to lead a strong and stable government should I win the leadership election," she said.

Leadsom wished May "the very greatest success" and assured her of her "full support".

What happens next?

Brady has ruled out the idea that Justice Secretary Michael Gove might rejoin the race. Asked if there was any chance of re-opening the contest, Brady said: "None whatsoever."

As a formality, May's leadership appointment will need the approval of the 1922 Committee and the Conservative Party Board. Brady said he hoped to be able to confirm this by the end of the day, but would not give a firm time or date when May might become prime minister.

Leadsom apologises to May for motherhood comments

11 July

Conservative leadership contender Andrea Leadsom has apologised for remarks that appeared to suggest that she was more invested in the nation's future than her rival Theresa May because she is a mother.

In an interview with The Times on Saturday, in which Leadsom presented her case for being a better leader than May, she said that having children meant she had a "very real stake" in the future of the country. "I have children who are going to have children who will directly be part of what happens next," she said, acknowledging that May "possibly" had nephews and nieces.

May has previously spoken about her regrets that medical issues prevented her and her husband Philip from becoming parents, and Leadsom's comments were widely perceived as "below the belt" by fellow Tory MPs.

Sir Alan Duncan questioned whether Leadsom believed that he, as a childless gay man, had less of a stake in the country's future, while the Conservative MP Sam Gyimah called the remarks "wrong and insulting". Cabinet minister Anna Soubry said the interview showed Leadsom "is not PM material".

Leadsom said that The Times had misrepresented her beliefs and that she had been specifically asked to talk about how motherhood had influenced her views. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"97091","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

The Tory hopeful, who has already been scrutinised by the media over her tax affairs, work history and opposition to gay marriage, said the backlash had been "shattering".

"I've already said to Theresa how very sorry I am for any hurt I have caused," she told the Daily Telegraph.

May will today launch her national campaign to become the next prime minister after the votes of Conservative MPs narrowed the field down to two.

Making her pitch as the sensible moderate who will bring stability to the country, May will distance herself from any speculation that she is the new Margaret Thatcher with an emphasis on community and inclusivity. She is also expected to pledge business reforms aimed at making firms more accountable and curbing excesses.

"The rhetoric will be framed as part of Mrs May's attempt to be a "One Nation" leader and unite a country divided by the recent vote to leave the EU," notes the Financial Times.

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