Theresa May sticks with under 100,000 immigration pledge

(c) Sky News 2017: <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/vote-2017-tories-stick-to-tens-of-thousands-immigration-pledge-in-manifesto-10868674">Theresa May sticks with under 100,000 immigration pledge</a>
 

The Prime Minister has confirmed she will be sticking to her target to reduce net migration to under 100,000 - despite not hitting it for seven years.

Speaking while out campaigning on Monday morning, Theresa May said net migration must be kept at a "sustainable level" and she believed that was the "tens of thousands".

David Cameron first set the target when he was Prime Minister in 2010, however, he and and Mrs May, who was then home secretary, repeatedly failed to deliver on the promise.

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Under Mr Cameron's premiership, the level of net migration rose to a record 330,000 - a target he and Mrs May steadfastly refused to abandon.

Mrs May said: "Let's look at why we have a net migration target, why we have said that it is important to reduce immigration, to bring control into the immigration figures.

"It's because of the impact that it has on people. The impact it has, particularly on people at the lower end of the income scale and in terms of the pressure on public services.

"So I think it's important that we continue - and we will continue - to say that we do want to bring net migration down to sustainable levels. We believe that is the tens of thousands."

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She (Munich: SOQ.MU - news) added that leaving the European Union would allow the Government to set the rules on who comes into the country and "control our borders".

Ministers had refused to be drawn on whether the benchmark would be retained in the General Election manifesto.

Last month, Culture Secretary Karen Bradley told Sky News the immigration issue was "not about putting a number on it".

At the weekend, when asked whether the "tens of thousands" figure contained in the 2015 manifesto would be in the 2017 one, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: "It's not going to be identical to the last one. We're setting it out for hopefully a five-year term.

"We've got a lot to think through to work out what's the best way to deliver on our priorities."

It led to speculation the Conservatives were preparing to drop the figure in favour of a promise only to reduce net migration to "sustainable levels".

The disclosure that the target will remain comes as UKIP outlines its "one in, one out" immigration policy, which will see the number of people coming to the UK cut from 600,000 a year to 300,000 a year, over five years.

Unveiling the policy at an event in central London, the party's leader, Paul Nuttall, said the Tories had failed to deliver on their promises.

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He said net migration figures from last year showed that a "city the size of Newcastle" came to the UK and added: "This is clearly unsustainable and this is clearly unfair, particularly to inner city communities."

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: "It's political manoeuvring that means very little. Theresa May should know better. She has set, and then failed to meet, countless immigration targets in her time as home secretary.

"It's important that we do have a migration policy but it is also important that policy is for the benefit of Britain... Don't set some silly artificial target that you know you will break just because it will please a couple of newspapers."

And Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "Theresa May made that promise in 2010 and made the same promise in 2015, and didn't get anywhere near it on any occasion at all.

"Obviously our manifesto will set out our policy when that's produced next week.

"But the issue is that there has to be fair migration into this country and it has to be managed migration."

Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute Of Directors, said: "A target is a poor substitute for a proper immigration policy.

"All parties should instead see Brexit as an opportunity to come up with a new system that is good for the economy, but also addresses voters' concerns."

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