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‘Deep concern’ over Cleverly comments as Braverman’s ideas on net migration linger within cabinet | Politics News


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If the Conservatives thought the autumn statement would bring the party a much needed boost – announcing cuts to national insurance and business taxes – some very big numbers were lurking just around the corner that would ruin the party.

The very next day, the Office for National Statistics released figures that showed net migration has hit a record-high of 1.3 million in the last couple of years.

For the Conservatives, it brought back a thorny, divisive issue and plunged the party into fighting factions once again.

The migration figures came as a surprise, even at the heart of government, and followed the Supreme Court’s ruling a week earlier that the government’s controversial migration plan – the Rwanda policy – was unlawful.

Now in an interview with The Times, Home Secretary James Cleverly warned people not to “fixate” on the Rwanda migration scheme, adding that he has become “frustrated” with the heavy focus on the issue, and that it should not be seen as the “be all and end all”.

It is seen as a marked change in tone to that of his predecessor Suella Braverman whose hard line on migration made her a favourite with those on the right of the party.

And even though she is gone, many MPs believe her ideas and policies live on in the Home Office.

One Conservative source said: “The comments made by the new home secretary are deeply concerning for anyone who cares about immigration control.

“He seems incredibly blasé about net migration numbers that are unprecedented in their scale and a source of serious concern for millions of voters.

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UK migration: What the numbers tell us

“The reason why many of us focus on the Rwanda scheme is because it’s our main deterrent to illegal migration. Without a significant deterrent like the Rwanda scheme we simply cannot realistically hope to make major inroads in stopping the boats.”

Barry Legg, chairman of the Eurosceptic think tank The Bruges Group, said the government has to press ahead with the Rwanda plan.

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He told Sky News: “It’s got to be an effective plan. We can’t back away from the Rwanda policy. It will be seen as a total U-turn and will undermine any Conservative policies that are put forward on immigration.”

Jonathan Gullis MP, a former schoolteacher who won Stoke-on-Trent North for the Tories for the first time in the seat’s 70-year history, said: “The home secretary and I were elected on a manifesto to cut migration.

“We made a promise to the British people to stop the boats. He would be wise to remember this, and like the prime minister, he should leave all options on the table and be willing to do whatever it takes to take back control of our borders.”

Backlash within cabinet

Mr Cleverly’s comments also appear to have caused a backlash within the cabinet.

Robert Jenrick, immigration minister, is now openly pushing for the kind of immigration restrictions favoured by Ms Braverman – such as increasing the salary cap for those coming into the UK and placing restrictions on the number of health and care workers who can work in Britain.

But this could be a double-edged sword.

Any future migration policy must find the right balance between controlling immigration without harming the economy.

The health and social care system relies heavily on workers coming to work in the UK and restrictions could plunge vital services into chaos.

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PM on Rwanda: ‘I will take them on’

Within hours of the Supreme Court ruling, Rishi Sunak said the government would introduce emergency legislation to confirm that Rwanda was safe – and the UK was working on a new treaty.

A Downing Street source told Sky News: “The PM has been crystal clear he’ll do what it takes to get flights off to Rwanda as a key part of his ten point plan to stop the boats.

“He’s determined to make the Rwanda plan work so that people coming here illegally know they cannot stay.”

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Written by: radioroxi

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