Sunak attributes high immigration levels to Johnson’s tenure
The prime minister mentioned that he had received the figures from his predecessors but expressed determination to bring them back down to “sustainable levels”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks with students at the University of Surrey in Guildford, southern England, on November 30, 2023. JUSTIN TALLIS/Pool via REUTERS
Rishi Sunak has attributed the high levels of net migration to Boris Johnson. He said, that he “inherited these very large numbers” and is committed to reducing them.
The prime minister pledged to take necessary measures to decrease net migration, facing pressure from the right wing of his party to lower new arrivals in the UK before the upcoming election.
Revised estimates indicated a record net migration of 745,000 in 2022, following post-Brexit changes in the immigration system implemented under Boris Johnson’s leadership.
The net migration for the year ending in June 2023 is estimated to be slightly lower, around 672,000, The Guardian reported.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick claimed to have advocated for a plan to reduce net migration a year ago, while Conservative backbenchers are urging a more sweeping overhaul of the visa system.
Jenrick’s remarks suggested dissatisfaction with the government’s failure to implement his recommendations aiming to reduce overall migration, aligning with a 2019 manifesto pledge to lower levels below 250,000.
Reports indicate that Jenrick has presented his own five-point plan to No. 10.
When questioned about whether he had obstructed Jenrick’s proposal to reduce net migration a year ago and his stance on an overall cap, Sunak said, “We have taken significant action already but we are prepared to do more.
“We are clamping down on the number of dependants that people who are students coming here can bring – that will impact over 150,000 student dependants, it’s a very significant measure which is coming in next year.
We’ve raised visa fees across the board by up to 35%.”
Sunak mentioned that he had received the figures from his predecessors but expressed determination to bring them back down to “sustainable levels.”
While visiting Guildford, Surrey on Thursday (30), he informed reporters that the current levels of legal migration to the country are excessively high.
“I’ve inherited these very large numbers and I’m determined to do what is necessary to bring them back down to sustainable levels.”
Sunak said that the government was reviewing independent advice and planned to introduce measures aimed at reducing migration levels that were placing unsustainable pressure on public services.
There are considerations within the government to reduce the number of dependants that foreign care workers can bring into the UK.
However, experts caution that severe restrictions on migration might adversely affect the economy, especially during a period of staff shortages in crucial sectors.
Suella Braverman, previously dismissed from her role as home secretary, asserted that the prime minister went back on an agreement to enact policies such as implementing visa caps or raising minimum salary thresholds during her tenure.
Sunak, supported by foreign secretary David Cameron and home secretary James Cleverly, reportedly hesitates to yield to requests to suspend human rights laws, a move aimed at enabling the transfer of asylum seekers to Rwanda.