Scottish Daily Mail

PM backs away from pledge to keep migrants below 250,000

- From Jason Groves in Tokyo PUGH IS AWAY

RISHI Sunak last night backed away from the Tory manifesto pledge to cut net migration to below a quarter of a million.

The Prime Minister repeatedly refused to commit to delivering the 2019 promise to reduce net migration below its then level of 226,000 per year.

En route to the G7 summit in Tokyo, he said the main priority was to tackle illegal migration and ‘stop the boats’.

Mr Sunak appeared to blame Boris Johnson and Liz Truss for allowing net migration to rocket to 50 ,000 last year, saying he had ‘inherited’ a system already allowing in far more people than in 2019.

Ministers are braced for the figure to go even higher next week when the latest official statistics are released.

Mr Sunak said: ‘I do think most people’s number one priority when it comes to migration is illegal migration – that is crystal clear to me.

‘When it comes to legal migration, the key thing for people to know is we’re in control of why people are here.’

Net migration has soared in the wake of the pandemic and Home Secretary Suella Braverman has drawn up proposals to curb numbers, but they have so far met with Cabinet resistance.

Mr Sunak yesterday announced a further 5,000 temporary visas for seasonal workers, saying it was ‘something that the farming community said to us they wanted’.

Jeremy Hunt told the British Chambers of Commerce the Government would be ‘pragmatic’ about using immigratio­n to fill vacancies in the economy. The Chancellor said he was open to adding more jobs to the shortage occupation list, which makes it easier for companies to recruit from abroad.

The PM has establishe­d a committee meeting twice weekly to ensure new immigratio­n laws to tackle the Channel migrant crisis are implemente­d as soon as they are approved by Parliament. In addition, Mr Sunak said his attendance at this week’s Council of Europe summit in Iceland had produced ‘tangible’ results, including steps towards a deal on border co-operation with the EU.

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