Newspaper headlines: May's speech divides opinion, plus 'getting tough' with EU

By Andy Sully
BBC News


"Hardline", "uncompromising" and "tough" - all adjectives various papers attach to Theresa May's Conservative conference speech on the theme of immigration.

The Sun declares the third day of the conference to have been "May Day", as the home secretary vowed to "rip up existing asylum rules" in her "blistering speech".

image source, Getty Images
image captionTheresa May after delivering her speech

The paper highlights Mrs May's claim that her new approach would be "humane for those who need our help, tough on those who abuse it."

The Independent thinks the speech was "an extraordinary attack on immigrants".

It says "business leaders, universities, NHS chiefs and refugee groups joined forces to raise the alarm over her stance on immigration".

The paper's front page lists various ways in which it says migration has benefited Britain, including "adding tens of billions to the economy since the turn of the century".

The Guardian's editorial says Mrs May's speech turned the "clock back to the nasty party" days.

It adds that her address sounded to many "cheap and inflammatory" and was so "harsh" that she was "widely condemned even by her allies".

In a point-by-point analysis of some of her speech, Financial Times economics correspondent Ferdinando Giugliano challenges many of the assertions Mrs May made.

Quoting academic research, Giugliano says "there is no evidence that immigrants reduce the wages of all", although he concedes they may put some small pressure on the pay received by the least skilled.

The Daily Mirror says Mrs May's "unpleasant speech on refugees and migrants lacked solid evidence, fanned prejudice and was riddled with contradictions."

It adds that her motive in delivering it was "shameless ambition" as leader of the "unpleasant right" to succeed David Cameron when he steps down as leader.

The Times adopts a less hostile position, saying that the home secretary was "hard to fault" in her analysis of "the pain caused when immigration comes too quickly".

But it says by making a case that there was no net benefit to high levels of immigration at all she was "flatly and wilfully incorrect".

It's a very different story in the Daily Mail.

The paper calls Mrs May the "woman with the guts to tell the truth". Its editorial says she voices "the thoughts of the vast, disenfranchised majority".

image captionPeter Oborne says Mrs May "stood up for ordinary people"

Columnist Peter Oborne argues that the home secretary should now lead the "no to the EU" campaign in the forthcoming referendum.

In the Daily Express, commentator Chris Roycroft-Davis says "how refreshing it is to hear a major figure in the government echo the sentiments which gained UKIP more than 4m votes at the election.

"Anyone who has tried to get a doctor's appointment or who has been unlucky enough to go to A&E knows only too well the intolerable pressure that is put on the NHS" by immigration, he adds.

The Daily Telegraph's commentary says: "This country has experienced by far the highest levels of immigration in its history over the past 20 years and few, if any, preparations have been made for it.

"Until 1997, it was assumed that net migration would continue at around the 50,000 mark for the foreseeable future. The figure is now six times that.

"No government can ignore the impact of such a change."


There was another politician who the press widely believe set out his stall yesterday as a potential future leader of the Conservatives: Boris Johnson.

Daily Telegraph sketch writer Michael Deacon says that to watch a speech by Mrs May followed by one by Mr Johnson was to proceed from "icy fulmination" to "sunlit merriment".

Mr Johnson, Deacon continues, had the audience clucking with pleasure at his jokes - and thinly veiled attacks on party rivals - but "it was hard to gauge" if the London mayor had eclipsed the home secretary for popularity.

image source, AFP
image captionBoris Johnson and his "distinctive hair"

The Times's Patrick Kidd says Mr Johnson delivered a "flamboyant speech", replete with numerous ("brave" under the circumstances) references to rugby.

By contrast he says the Tory candidate to succeed him as mayor, Zac Goldsmith, delivered a speech "as flat as the Netherlands" which was "like watching England against Australia. Very trying."

The Daily Express likes Mr Johnson's emphasis on telling the EU that they should "not have power to decide who lives in Britain".

His "barnstorming" speech gave his campaign "a much-needed shot in the arm" and proves "there is much more to Boris Johnson than amusing photo-ops, jovial bluster and distinctive hair".

Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail says Mr Johnson - after beginning his oration by grunting "like an albino warthog" - delivered the "best speech I have heard [him] give.

"Boris stood there not, as so often in the past, the harlequined, bladder-parping japester but as a squat-shouldered servant of the colours."

image source, Reuters
image captionZac Goldsmith: The London mayoral candidate was "soaked" by Boris Johnson's metaphorical water cannon, the Guardian suggests

The Guardian notes that the intervention of Mr Johnson and Mrs May into the EU negotiations debate risks "overshadowing" the prime minister's closing speech today.

It has also led to complaints that the two political heavyweights were "jostling" for position as a future Conservative leader.

In his sketch of the conference, John Crace says Mr Johnson lit up a day that had hitherto contained "all the excitement of an accountants' convention".

With an understanding of "glamour" and "decent gags", Mr Johnson used his speech to "soak" rivals George Osborne, Theresa May and potential successor Zac Goldsmith in a manner that the mayor's famously mothballed water cannon never will, Crace adds.

Net effects

The Financial Times leads on a European Court of Justice (ECJ) judgement which it says has led to the US-based technology giants "scrambling" to make sure they comply with.

The court - in a ruling that the FT says represents a "dramatic backlash" to Edward Snowden's revelations of US cyber-spying - has scrapped a deal that allowed US firms to take data on its European customers back to North America.

The binned "Safe Harbour" agreement allowed the US authorities to spy on Europeans, critics have said.

The paper says internet firms such as Amazon and Facebook will be affected, as will global IT firms such as IBM and Salesforce.

image source, Reuters
image captionData from European internet users will have to remain on European servers in future

An IBM vice-president, Chris Padilla, tells the FT that the court ruling "jeopardises these vital data flows and will negatively impact" its EU customers.

Inside the paper, it notes that the CBI has warned that Europe's entire "digital agenda" may be hindered by the ECJ decision.

It's a viewpoint the Independent shares.

It says scrapping Safe Harbour contributes to the "Balkanisation" of the internet, with providers having to tailor services to each territory it operates in.

"Not only would such stratification compromise the 'open borders' that have allowed the internet to flourish; it would increase the cost of running digital business," the paper asserts.

In a Guardian feature, human rights lawyer Carly Nyst argues that internet users should "rejoice" at the ECJ decision.

The decision to suspend Safe Harbour she says is "one of those rare beasts: a highly legalistic judgement of seemingly little public relevance whose ripples will touch - if not be felt - by everyone, from the average British Facebook user to the American congressman".

Nyst says the treaty, which promised to protect EU citizens data from "abuse, error, theft or illegitimate appropriation" was shockingly exposed to be meaningless by Mr Snowden's testimony.

"The European Court of Justice has taken a step that no court has previously had the courage to take: it declared the mass, indiscriminate electronic interception and scrutiny of private internet communications to be an act that inherently violates human rights law," she concludes.

What the commentators say

media captionCaroline Frost of the Huffington Post, and parliamentary journalist Tony Grew join the BBC News Channel to look at Wednesday's top stories.

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