Suella Braverman reveals bold vision of future

Nigel Farage on new net migration figures

Rishi Sunak was on Saturday night warned he “must get immigration down” as concern mounted over Britain’s soaring population.

Senior Tories urged the Prime Minister to show the “vision and courage” to overcome fears the economy will crash if he stops importing cheap foreign labour.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman insisted last it was possible to reduce net migration without wrecking public services or stifling growth.

She said: “A prosperous Britain with secure borders is within our reach.”

Mrs Braverman spoke out after figures showed 606,000 more people arrived than left the UK last year – and that does not include those who arrived illegally by boat.

She told the Sunday Express: “We can get net migration down without damaging our economy or our public services. To all those who want immigration to fall, I can assure you so does this Government.”

Her remarks came as five former Cabinet ministers on Saturday urged Mr Sunak to end high immigration.

And in a further blow to the Government, a poll revealed six in 10 people have no confidence in the PM cutting the numbers, with barely one in five believing he can.

Conservative MPs believe Mr Sunak is being swayed by doom-laden advisers who believe foreign workers are vital to meet his promise of boosting economic growth.

They say he is being held to ransom by the Office for Budget Responsibility, which has based its forecasts on net migration of at least 245,000 a year and would have to revise its figures if it fell below that.

He is also being hampered, it is claimed, by the effects a cut would have on education and the NHS.

University fees – capped at £9,250 since 2010 – are heavily subsidised by letting in foreign students who pay up to £44,240.

A crackdown on visas would hit funding and trigger calls to put up tuition costs for UK students. Critics also believe foreign nationals are being recruited into the NHS in high numbers because it would cost £1billion to increase the number of home-grown medical students by 5,000 a year.

Former ministers warned this was forcing him to make “bad choices” and “undercut our own people” for fear of not creating enough growth. One described it as “madness”.

Migrants can get a skilled worker visa for a job paying as little as £20,960 and Mr Sunak is facing demands to increase the minimum salary so British workers are not undercut.

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It is reported Mrs Braverman has pushed the PM to reduce the number of work-related visas and increase the minimum income threshold. And the Home Office is considering potential changes in rules to make it harder for residents in the UK to be joined by family from abroad.

But senior Tories say the Government is not doing more to curb the number of migrants because it fears analysts will downgrade growth forecasts – a move which could have major consequences for tax and spending plans.

They accused the OBR of “positively encouraging” high immigration and some have called for it to be abolished.

But veteran Brexiteer Mrs Braverman responded: “I know we must get immigration down.

“We want the very brightest and best people in the world to aspire to come here to study, and to invest and to start businesses. But I understand it is vital that immigration does not intensify pressure on the NHS, schools, infrastructure and housing.”

Earlier this year the OBR forecast net migration would stabilise at around 245,000 people a year, potentially boosting the economy by 0.5 percent.

But critics insist mass immigration is bad for the economy.

Former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey said: “Britain cannot rely on immigration to fuel growth, no matter what the OBR says.

“It is not sustainable to have the UK’s population grow by the equivalent of a major city each year.

“Ministers need to display vision and courage, even if it means taking on policy wonks and economic orthodoxy. Too often, decision-makers worry that if they take action to cut the numbers, this will result in the OBR lowering the country’s growth forecast.”

Former Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “The OBR is always wrong and therefore we are making bad choices about migration policy because of the failures of the OBR.”

And he added: “If you only employ cheap labour, it then means it’s impossible for someone who’s already here to go into that form of work because they won’t get paid enough to make it worth not being on benefits, so you perpetuate the shortage.”

Former cabinet minister Sir John Redwood claimed: “We are undercutting our own people. It is quite wrong. I do not want a low wage model for the United Kingdom.

“We need to train and support our own people into better paid jobs.”

Warning of the pressure on public services, infrastructure and housing, he said: “We are not building two cities the size of Southampton every year which we would need to do to provide for 500,000 people extra every year.”

And former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith warned the OBR “forecasts can have a terrible effect” on Government decisions

He said downgraded forecasts can lead to ministers “raising taxes or tightening up the economy because of fear of not enough growth”.

Describing the situation as “madness”, he said it was an “absurdity” that efforts to control migration were seen as a threat to growth.

Karl Williams, of the Centre for Policy Studies, argues net migration can be brought down without jeopardising the NHS or bringing economic chaos. He said: “The economic and fiscal forecasts produced by the OBR in March this year assumed net migration would be 311,000 in the 2022-23 financial year and 295,000 in 2023-24.

“We now know net migration is running at twice that level, meaning there’s plenty of scope for cutting immigration numbers without undermining the Government’s tax and spending plans.

“We need to prioritise genuinely high-skilled migrant workers and the healthcare professionals who help to keep the NHS afloat, while considering the additional burden on things like housing and school places.”

And John Longworth, a former director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, is in no doubt about what Mr Sunak needs to do to make Britain more prosperous – and it does not involve listening to the OBR.

The Independent Business Network chairman said: “What we need is productivity and enterprise which are boosted by creating a favourable tax and regulatory environment. The Government needs to shrink and get out of the way.”

“As for the OBR, it should be abolished.”

The OBR declined to comment.

Voters fear Rishi will break predge on immigration

Voters do not believe that Rishi Sunak will keep his promise to cut immigration, an exclusive poll has revealed, write Jonathan Walker and David Williamson.

A Sunday Express survey found just 19 percent of voters, fewer than one in five, expect the Prime Minister to reduce net migration, while 61 percent don’t believe the pledge will be kept.

Mr Sunak last week announced what he called “the biggest ever single measure to tackle legal migration”, including removing the right of most foreign students to bring dependents into the country and banning them from working in the UK before their studies are complete.

The poll by Omnisis also found many voters believe Boris Johnson and Suella Braverman are victims of a deliberate plot to damage their reputations and the standing of the Conservative Party. Both have been victims of leaks involving the civil service in recent days.

Our survey found 52 percent believe the information was deliberately shared to hurt the two politicians, with 15 percent disagreeing, while 42 percent believe the leaks were also designed to damage the party.

It suggests many voters agree with Mr Johnson, who has claimed he is the victim of a “politically motivated stitch-up”. He has branded suggestions he may have taken part in further rule-breaking during the pandemic “a load of absolute nonsense”, after the Cabinet Office handed entries from his official diary to police.

Mr Sunak last week cleared Ms Braverman of breaching the ministerial code after it emerged she asked officials to investigate whether she could attend a private speed awareness course after being caught speeding.

She paid a fine instead and insists that at no point did she seek to evade the sanction.

However, 57 percent of voters say that the reputations of both politicians have been damaged by the leaks.

It was reported on Saturday night that Mr Sunak and Mr Johnson have arranged a phone call to try to quell a simmering civil war within the party caused partly by anger among Boris’s allies over the leaks.

Topics that could be discussed include plans to hand a peerage to three Tory MPs as part of Mr Johnson’s resignation honours list, which could lead to difficult by-elections if they quit the Commons to take up seats in the House of Lords.

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