Conservatives will reduce “immigration overall” home secretary says
Home Secretary Priti Patel has said that the Conservatives will cut down on “immigration overall” post-Brexit should they win December’s general election.
Home office minister Brandon Lewis added that the UK must leave the EU in order to “end free movement”, which will be the key to “reduce net migration.”
The Labour party is yet to declare its own immigration policy, yet shadow business minister Laura Pidcock said that the Conservatives have “broken every single commitment” they have made on immigration so far.
Pidcock said that numbers targets to reduce immigration were “arbitrary”, pointing the finger at “exploitative bosses” for being the factor knocking down wages.
In September’s Labour party conference in Brighton, its members supported a motion defending the right of EU migrants to live and work in the UK and voted that the party must oppose any immigration system that is based on quotas, caps, targets or personal incomes, along with looking to extend migrant rights.
However, it is unknown as to whether this commitment will form part of party policy in this year's election manifesto.
Patel has not yet outlined Conservative plans in detail, but said that freedom of movement under EU rules will end on January 1 2021 if they win the election and are able to push through Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal by the end of January 2020.
Plans of a “points-based” immigration system based on skills and other factors have been mooted, which would apply to migrants from EU states and the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, the Conservatives are set to abolish its target of cutting net migration to below 100,000 after years of consistent failure. Latest figures in the year to March 2019 suggest that net migration reached 226,000, although EU immigration to the UK is at a six-year low.
In a statement from the Conservative party, Patel said: "We will reduce immigration overall while being more open and flexible to the highly skilled people we need, such as scientists and doctors. This can only happen if people vote for a Conservative majority government so we can leave the EU with a deal.”
Patel added that a Labour government would only increase immigration and put more pressure on public services.
Patel said: “Under Corbyn's Labour, immigration would surge, and put huge strain on schools and our NHS.”
Labour had promised to end freedom of movement in its general election manifesto in 2017, but a growing number of senior figures within the party favour remaining in the EU and preserving freedom of movement, a move which has prompted Len McCluskey, who heads the party affiliate Unite trade union, to implore Labour leadership to "heed public concerns" on immigration.
Speaking to the Guardian, McCluskey said that plans to extend freedom of movement would not be “sensible” without "stricter labour market regulation", pointing out public concern over the levels of unskilled migrants coming to the UK, which has had an impact on wages and working conditions for British workers.
McCluskey said: "If you don't understand those concerns, you fail to grasp the divisions that exist. If we don't deal with the issues and concerns, we will create a vacuum that will be filled by a far right seeking to become the voice of the white working class."