Tory MP's group wants net migration target dropped

 
David Cameron with Theresa May at a Border Agency visit in 2010 David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May want net migration cut

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Prime Minister David Cameron is being urged to drop his pledge to cut net migration to "the tens of thousands".

The call comes from a new Tory campaign group, Managed Migration, which claims the support of up to 20 Tory MPs.

The group's organiser, Conservative MP Mark Field, warned Mr Cameron against getting into "a Dutch auction" over immigration numbers and said he could not "out-UKIP UKIP".

But Mr Cameron said the target was still "important".

"It is right to target a reduction in immigration," he said on a visit to Hull.

"If you look at immigration from outside the European Union, it is down by a third and it is at its lowest level since 1998 and we have to keep working towards that important target."

However, Mr Field, the MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, said the target was "impractical", harmed Britain's global competitiveness and was clearly not going to be met.

'Wrong signals'

"Very few voters out there believe we can deliver on it and, indeed, all the evidence suggests it is now moving in the wrong direction," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"And, of course, very few businesses - and I feel that very close to my heart, representing the sort of seat I do - believe it is practical.

"And it risks, in my view, sending out the wrong signals about our openness - and Britain's traditional openness - as a trading nation, to the world at large."

He said recent big increases in net migration were a sign that the UK's economy was recovering strongly.

Chart showing migration figures 2004-13

"We have been victims of our own success. One of the reasons we are not able to achieve the net migration figure is that we are so outperforming our European neighbours that many people are coming from Spain and Portugal and France to these shores, and fewer people want to leave, so therefore net migration is going up and up."

He said he was not not calling for David Cameron to drop the net migration target immediately - but said it should not be in the Conservative Party's next election manifesto.

"We need a more calm debate about this going forward.

"And I think the difficulty is we are not going to be able to out-UKIP UKIP. I have a lot of respect for Nigel Farage but he has very different views on this to me."

'Still time'

Net migration is the difference between the numbers of people moving to live in the UK and the numbers of people leaving.

The latest figures show net annual migration rose 58,000 to 212,000 in the year to September 2013.

Although levels steadily declined in 2012 after tighter restrictions on non-EU migrants took effect, the trend has since reversed - largely due to the increase in the number of migrants from other EU countries.

At the Westminster launch of his Conservatives for a Managed Migration group, he denied being a lone voice, despite no other Conservative MPs attending the event.

Mark Field calls for an end to the "artificial and arbitrary" target figure of 100,000 net immigrants a year in the UK

He said he hoped to get more MPs on board but said "many times" his colleagues had told him they agreed with his view but said "we are worried about UKIP and therefore we would rather not be publicly associated".

Labour immigration spokesman David Hanson said: "Labour has long called for a calm and rational discussion about immigration, so we welcome Mark Field's opposition to the shrill and ineffective approach adopted by their own Government."

Conservative chairman Grant Shapps said earlier this month that there was "still time" for the target to be met.

But Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable has repeatedly called for it to be dropped - and angered immigration minister James Brokenshire by saying recent increases in net migration were "good news".

 

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  • rate this
    +174

    Comment number 32.

    Low wages
    No housing
    Nhs buckling
    Transport collapsing
    Education disappearing down the plug hole

    Yet we still import 250k people a year

    MADNESS

  • rate this
    +166

    Comment number 4.

    The Right supports mass migration because it lowers people's wages; the Left supports it because it adds 'diversity' and dilutes patriotism and sense of belonging. In other words, we're stuffed.

    It's amazing that the idea of managed immigration (like say Australia) based on skills and available resources is so derided by the Establishment.

  • rate this
    +131

    Comment number 5.

    This group claims the support of 20 Tory MP's.
    They should be more concerned about the support of the public

  • rate this
    +122

    Comment number 30.

    It is a nonsense to suggest that reducing net migration to fewer than 100k persons per year would affect the competitiveness of the economy. What is affecting the economy is the failure to educate the people that are already here, including the children of recent migrants who also lose out. Perpetual importation of cheap labour is just a Ponzi scheme and like all such schemes they will collapse.

  • rate this
    +122

    Comment number 43.

    The country's going backwards. Only last week lawyers were being advised how to write sharia wills that deny wives and children the right to support from the father's estate, leaving them dependent upon state benefits.

    This is multiculturalism: dumbing down by giving up good law for religious law from before the the Middle Ages. And yet people still think it is wonderful.

    RIP Great Britain.

 

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  68.  
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  81.  
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  83.  
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  84.  
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  86.  
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  87.  
    11:23: New cash for energy saving scheme announced

    Energy Secretary Ed Davey has announced the launch of a new £70m tranche of the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund from Monday 16 March. He's been speaking to Money Saving Expert, and said up to £5,600 will be available to households in England and Wales to help with the costs of installing energy saving improvements. The money off vouchers will be available on a first-come first-served basis. The fund offers cashback and incentives on such things as double-glazing, insulation and boilers.

     
  88.  
    11:29: Farage speech on immigration

    "The big debate in the 1970s was whether we could accommodate 28,000 migrants from Uganda... but we did and they turned out to be one of the most successful migrant groups in our history," Mr Farage says.

     
  89.  
    11:28: Farage speech on immigration

    "We don't want mass immigration to continue as it is... we need better controls over our borders," Mr Farage says. He claims UKIP has a common sense policy on immigration. He adds UKIP is the only party that will talk honestly about immigration, which he says is the number one issue for most voters. He claims the current policy discriminates against skilled migrants from India and other parts of the Commonwealth in favour of unskilled migrants from southern and eastern Europe.

     
  90.  
    11:28: Pic: Farage speech
    Nigel Farage
     
  91.  
    11:23: Farage speech

    Mr Farage claims net migration levels used to sit at around 30,000 a year - he said earlier that he was referring to figures from the 1950s to the late 1990s. He continues by saying there is nothing wrong with wanting to control immigration, saying "we want to do what the Australians do". He claims an influx of unskilled migrants has also meant that for many the "minimum wage has become the maximum wage".

     
  92.  
    11:23: Farage speech on immigration

    "It is perhaps no wonder that 77% of the British public want us to take back control of our borders," says Mr Farage as he makes his opening salvo in his immigration speech. He then starts to link the pressure on services including the NHS and pressure on communities to immigration too.

     
  93.  
    11:23: Today in the Commons House of Commons Parliament

    The day in the House of Commons begins in a few minutes' time, as MPs put questions to the Secretary of State for Wales, Stephen Crabb. Shortly after 12.00 GMT, Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband face each other for Prime Minister's Questions.

     
  94.  
    11:21: Red-Green alliance?

    Tory MP Dominic Raab has laid into the Green party on the Conservativehome blog. He calls the party's policies dangerous and irresponsible. He also warns the Greens "may threaten Labour most. But, that wouldn't stop them forming a Red-Green alliance that draws from the most economically and socially irresponsible agenda presented by any UK party for a generation".

     
  95.  
    11:11: Guardian election poll

    The Guardian's latest election poll projects the Conservatives will win 277 seats at the general election, Labour 271, the SNP 51, the Lib Dems 25, UKIP 4, the Greens 1.

     
  96.  
    11:10: "Plebgate"

    In November former chief whip Andrew Mitchell lost his High Court libel action against News Group Newspapers over a story in the Sun in 2012 which claimed he called PC Toby Rowland a "pleb" during a row about whether he could cycle out of the main gates in Downing Street. Mr Mitchell acknowledged that he had used bad language but maintained he had not used that word. Delivering his ruling, Mr Justice Mitting said he was satisfied that the MP did say the word "pleb". PC Toby Rowland counter-sued Mr Mitchell over the claims, hence today's settlement.

     
  97.  
    11:07: "Plebgate" payout
    Andrew MItchell

    If you're a little behind the times on the "Plebgate" row or it it passed you by somehow then the BBC has a handy timeline, which should take you through it all.

     
  98.  
    10:51: Plebgate pay out

    It's been a long and tangled tale, the plebgate saga. Here's our news story on the latest development - the £80,000 pay out by Andrew Mitchell to Pc Toby Rowland. We'll be building it up as more details come in.

     
  99.  
    10:45: 'Job isn't done' BBC News Channel

    Business Minister Matthew Hancock begins his interview rather like his boss did earlier by avoiding the question raised by the IFS report about the divergence in fortunes between young and old. "It's a big moment. This is very big news," he says, hailing the positives. But he goes on to say: "The job isn't done. We're moving in the right direction." He adds that the government doesn't "care about the data" but about individual people.

     
  100.  
    @matthewchampion Matthew champion, news editor at i100

    tweets: attention residents of Thurrock: do not buy any walls today.

     

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