Politics Summary: Friday, November 27th

The Guardian shows that net migration fell by more than a third to 163,000 last year, its lowest level since Poland joined the European Union. As Left Foot Forward reported yesterday, net migration from the eight European Union accession countries fell to just 9,000 – down from a peak of 78,000 in 2007. Immigration to the UK reached 590,000, with the largest single group comprising 85,000 British citizens returning to live in the UK. The Express unsurprisingly distorts the statistics by focusing only on inflows: “Immigration: 590,000 new arrivals in Britain a year” while the Sun barely report the outbound figures. The Telegraph join the scaremongering: “Record numbers leaving UK but half a million migrants still arriving each year”

The Guardian, Independent and Mirror cover Sir Christopher Meyer’s appearance at the Chilcot inquiry. He said that the timing of the invasion was dictated by the “unforgiving nature” of the military build-up rather than the outcome of diplomacy. He also reflected on how Margaret Thatcher would have behaved: “I think she would have insisted on a clear, coherent diplomatic strategy and I think she would have demanded the greatest clarity about what the heck will happen if and when we remove Saddam Hussein.” Carne Ross, a diplomat who resigned over the decision to invade, said, “The mid-level people who spent all their time doing Iraq – our view was that sanctions had been effective in stopping Saddam rearming, and several of us believed a lot more could have been done to stop Iraq’s illegal oil sales.”

The Independent reports that David Cameron is on the defensive over claims made at Prime Minister’s Questions that two schools had received money from an anti-terrorism fund and had not been registered or inspected by Ofsted. In fact, one of the two schools – in Slough, Berkshire – had posted a glowing commendation from Ofsted on its website. The paper says the report was easily accessible by Googling the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation, and its veracity could be confirmed with Ofsted. The Times quotes Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, accusing the Tory leader of spreading “divisive smears”, and outlines that Cameron’s office are blaming Michael Gove, the Shadow Schools Secretary.

The Guardian reports that the Health and Safety Executive has said it could not recommend plans for new nuclear reactors because of wide-ranging concerns about their safety: “We have identified a significant number of issues with the safety features of the design that would first have to be progressed. If these are not progressed satisfactorily then we would not issue a design acceptance confirmation.” Jean McSorley, consultant to Greenpeace’s nuclear campaign, said it was highly likely that reactor designs would not be ready for final sign-off at the end of the design process. But the FT says that a French consortium, made up of Areva and EDF, has submitted a solution that will “in principle” meet the concerns.

The papers have differing takes on Gordon Brown’s trip to the Commonwealth meeting in Trinidad & Tobago. The Telegraph says it will provide a unique opportunity to bring together countries from the rich and poor worlds ahead of Copenhagen. The Guardian says that Brown will use the talks to maintain his campaign for the introduction of a “Tobin tax” on global financial transactions in the face of US opposition. The Guardian and Independent are agreed that Brown will embrace the central thrust of General Stanley McChrystal’s report into the future of Afghanistan when he speaks today of the need to develop a military and political “push”.

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