It would be churlish to deny Boris Johnson some credit for abandoning the government’s “tens of thousands” immigration limit.
For a decade, since it was cynically engineered for the Conservatives’ 2010 general election campaign, it has become increasingly discredited.
The target has never been met, nor did it ever seem likely to be.
Ministers stealthily changed it from a limit to a target and then an aspiration. “Vain hope” would have been a more accurate label. Even if all EU “free movement” was taken out of the statistics, the net migration figure always ran far higher than the government’s target.
Only Ms May’s obduracy kept it in place. She even, as home secretary, resisted pressure from David Cameron and George Osborne, as chancellor, to soften it and take foreign students out of the numbers. She clung to the policy right to the bitter end.