The Evening Standard has today alleged that senior cabinet ministers privately do not support Theresa May’s desire to keep the Conservative target of reducing net immigration to the tens of thousands
In a leader column of the Evening Standard (a newspaper that is now run by the former Chancellor, George Osborne), the newspaper asserts that there had been an assumption at the top of the Conservative party that May would use the election to “bury the pledge” made by David Cameron before he was elected in 2010 because it was unachievable and undesirable: “That’s what her cabinet assumed; none of its senior members supports the pledge in private and all would be glad to see the back of something that has caused the Conservative party such public grief”.
The Evening Standard article stated that it could not understand why May had restated her commitment to the immigration target, a policy that the newspaper describes as “economically illiterate”, and suggests that the Prime Minister should “sweep away this bad policy”.
The Prime Minister has in the past said that she supports bringing down immigration to “sustainable levels”, something she has described as being in the tens rather than hundreds of thousands, despite the fact that this target has not been met during the six years which she was Home Secretary. May is expected to repeat the pledge in the Conservative manifesto.
We agree that the Conservative pledge should be abandoned. Most of the last 10 years has shown that immigration cannot be reduced (as it almost always reacts to economic and humanitarian factors), but merely fairly and rationally controlled. Article 1 is of the view that it is wise for this achievable promise to be dropped now rather than later because, if the UK does opt for a “hard” Brexit, the pledge will be even more difficult to meet as the numbers of people applying for UK visas post-Brexit will also include EU nationals.