Theresa May waters down Tory migration target
Home secretary drops target of reducing net migration to tens of thousands by general election, blaming immigration from EU.
Theresa May has watered down the Tory commitment to bring down net migration to the UK to the tens of thousands by the next general election, saying that the proposal is now a long-term target.
Her comments came as the main parties braced themselves for another strong result from Ukip in the European elections held on Thursday. The first results of voting percentages are expected between 10pm and midnight, with the details of which candidates have been successful emerging later.
Immigration was a key Ukip issue in the elections, and in the face of new figures showing net migration was 212,000 last year, the home secretary indicated that the Tories were likely to place some blame for the failure on the Liberal Democrats as she spoke of heated coalition exchanges on immigration.
May also used an interview on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 to confirm that the Tories were considering a change in the law to limit the amount of time for which EU migrants can claim benefits. Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, told the Sunday Times it could be cut from six to three months.
May said the Tories’ Lib Dem coalition partners were blocking some of proposals on immigration. “We are looking at a number of measures. It is no surprise to anybody that there have been long standing, possibly heated at times, discussions among the coalition on some these issues on immigration,” he said.
She insisted the coalition had made progress on immigration, saying that 70,000 fewer people emigrated to the UK last year than in 2010, when the coalition was formed. She said, however, that the government was highly unlikely to meet the Tory target of cutting net migration to the tens of thousands by the time of the general election next year, because immigration had increased from within the EU.
She said: “We still have that aim of the tens of thousands, but of course it has become more difficult. Net migration is too high. That is why I want to continue working to bring it down. What we see is in those areas which we can control, that is immigration from outside the EU, everything we have done as a government has been having an impact. And so we see that net migration from outside the EU is down to its lowest level since the late 1990s.”