The home secretary, has said the Conservatives would reduce immigration in the UK. Priti Patel said levels of immigration would be lower but has dropped former Prime Minister David Cameron’s target to cut net migration to the tens of thousands.
“We will reduce immigration overall while being more open and flexible to the highly skilled people we need, such as scientists and doctors,” she said. “This can only happen if people vote for a Conservative majority government so we can leave the EU with a deal.”
Soon after the announcement, the Home Office minister Brandon Lewis told the BBC he recognised the Tories had failed to keep promises in the past on reducing immigration.
“I recognise that people, including myself when I was immigration minister, have talked about reducing migration and net migration for years; we’ve not done that. And … that’s let people down. Labour obviously let the people in from all over Europe before when they were in government,” he said.
“We need to be able to leave the EU, but also with a points-based system – one of the things we have not been able to do before, because we’ve not had a good Conservative majority.”
Immigration has become a major hot potato between the Tories and Labour, as the latter has not yet published its policy and is divided about backing free movement or a more controlled policy.
Patel claimed immigration would “surge” to 840,000 if Jeremy Corbyn became prime minister.
She said, “Jeremy Corbyn has no credible plan for how to deal with the consequences of his open borders policy.”
However, Labour insists it was “fake news” and came from the “make-believe research department”.
The Party is also arguing that the Conservatives have misinterpreted the conference motion, emphasising that there was no mention of extending free movement to new geographic territories beyond EU countries.