Wednesday 13 December 2017

May vows to slash migration to UK by two-thirds

Theresa May on the campaign trail in Norwich yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Theresa May on the campaign trail in Norwich yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Andrew Woodcock

Theresa May has vowed to keep trying to reduce net migration to the UK by two-thirds to below 100,000, despite failing to hit that target during her six years as home secretary.

As the UK election rhetoric hotted up among all the parties yesterday, Ukip sought to step up the pressure on the Tories over the issue by setting out its own "one-in, one-out" pledge to reduce net migration to zero.

Ukip leader Paul Nuttall said young Britons should be encouraged to take seasonal jobs picking fruit and vegetables in student holidays to reduce the demand for foreign labour.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn set out plans to scrap hospital car parking charges in England, with the €190m cost covered by an 8pc hike in tax on private health insurance products.

Mrs May's immigration pledge ends speculation that the Conservative Party might ditch a promise introduced by former leader David Cameron in 2010 but never met.

"Once we leave the European Union, we will have the opportunity to ensure that we have control of our borders here in the UK, because we'll be able to establish our rules for people coming from the European Union into the UK," she said on the campaign trail yesterday.

Mr Corbyn refused to say whether Labour would set out a numerical target for migration, but said the aim would be a fair and managed system that recognised the "massive contribution" migrants have made to the NHS, education, industry and public transport services.

"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," he said.

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

Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, warned that a target was "a poor substitute for a proper immigration policy".

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

The latest figures showed net migration to the UK dropped to 273,000 in the year to September, driven in part by a fall in the number of foreign students.

Major employers need to monitor ethnic diversity in the workforce better, the Liberal Democrats have said.

On the campaign in Scotland, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said his party would require employers to monitor ethnic pay inequality in their companies, in the same way they do with the gender pay gap.

Irish Independent

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