Tory leadership frontrunner Theresa May has said she wants to “guarantee” position of EU migrants living in the UK and warned that cuts to migration won’t be coming quickly.
Speaking on ITV’s Peston on Sunday Mrs May said, “I want to ensure that we are able to not just guarantee the positions of [EU migrants in the UK] but guarantee the positions of British citizens in other member states.”
Mrs May said she discovered during her time as Home Secretary that it’s almost impossible to set a time period in which net migration can be brought down. Noting that “there are factors you can’t always predict”, the leadership candidate also cautioned of a possible spike in the numbers of Europeans migrating to the UK before ‘Brexit’ is made official.
The Telegraph asked the five Tory leadership contenders whether they will “promise to end free movement and cut net migration to the tens of thousands”.
Michael Gove promised to introduce an Australian points-based system for immigration while Andrea Leadsom and Liam Fox pledged to end free movement with European Union (EU) states.
By contrast, Mrs May, who backed Britain remaining in the EU, merely said she would reform EU freedom of movement rules. Currently, these grant unlimited numbers of EU migrants full access to the UK’s job market and NHS, and access to almost all benefits available to British citizens.
The Home Secretary said it would “take time” to bring migration down. Net migration to the UK was 336,000 last year. The Conservative government promised, when elected, to bring net migration down “to the tens of thousands”.
Mrs May told the Telegraph she would set out her “negotiating principles in more detail in the coming weeks”.
“There is clearly no mandate for a deal that involves accepting the free movement of people as it has worked until now,” she said.
“We must regain more control of the numbers of people who come here from Europe, and reduce the numbers that come from outside Europe too. We need immigration to be sustainable and I think net migration in the tens of thousands is sustainable, but it is going to take time.”
Ending free movement of people in the EU and cutting migration was one of the biggest issues in the referendum campaign. Vote Leave campaigners promised leaving the union would allow the British government control over who can migrate to the UK. Many people who voted for Leave fear Mrs May, who backed Remain, would not carry out the British public’s wishes as Prime Minister.
Journalist Katie Hopkins said Mrs May was unfit to lead the Conservative party after the country voted for ‘Brexit’. Slamming “Teflon Theresa’s” leadership bid, Ms Hopkins passionately attacked the Home Secretary for failing to campaign to leave the EU.
Declaring that the leadership frontrunner “does not have a good track record here in this country”, the journalist blasted Mrs May’s record on protecting the UK’s borders and on her treatment of the police.
Breitbart London reported claims that the Daily Telegraph pulled an article critical of the Tory leadership contender after pressure from Mrs May’s campaign team. The article provided a list of examples of her “little better than disastrous” failings as Home Secretary.
Jonathan Foreman’s article says Mrs May is responsible for a “succession of derelictions that has left Britain’s borders and coastline at least as insecure as they were in 2010, and which mean that British governments still rely on guesswork to estimate how many people enter and leave the country.”