The British government has abandoned a target to reduce net immigration to below 100,000 per year after the Home Secretary admitted it was “unlikely” and that the government has been “blown off course”.
Theresa May appeared to confirm in an interview with the Telegraph that the government has given up on drastically reducing immigration, something the Prime Minister had promised to do since the start of the current Parliament, and which he called a “no ifs, but buts” pledge.
The Home Secretary said: “We have been blown off course by the rise in European migration into the UK. That’s partly because our economy is doing better than other economies in Europe. So it’s now unlikely that we’re going to meet our tens of thousands target by the end of the Parliament.”
Her admission will come as a blow to the Prime Minister, who has been desperate to appear tough on immigration in a bid to head off a surge in popularity by the UK Independence Party. However, she said that she remained “positive” that Britain can renegotiate free movement rules with the European Union in a bid to cut immigration in the long run.
“I am positive that there is a changing mood within Europe. I’ve seen it. I’ve been talking about the need to deal with free movement, particularly the abuse of free movement, for four years now and increasingly I have seen other countries recognising that this is an issue.
“We talk to other countries like the Dutch and the Germans and others about this issue. There is a growing mood within other countries in Europe to be dealing with this which is why I think it is not just right that we have this as an issue, but I think it is an issue on which we will be able to negotiate some change.”
Labour seized upon the Home Secretary’s admission, saying that the government’s policy is “in tatters”.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “Theresa May has finally admitted that her net migration target is in tatters yet she still won’t take responsibility for it.
“The Prime Minister promised ‘no ifs no buts’ to reduce immigration to the tens of thousands, and Theresa May has spent four years claiming she was on track. Net migration is now more than twice her target and rising – and she has finally been forced to admit her target is ‘unlikely’. Continually making and breaking grand promises on immigration is only undermining confidence in the entire system.”