George Osborne has chastised Theresa May for failing to drop David Cameron’s pledge to reduce immigration “from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands”, claiming senior Tories privately disagree with it.
“[N]one of [the Cabinet’s] 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,” he wrote in an editorial for the Evening Standard.
The former Chancellor of the Exchequer was recently appointed editor of the newspaper despite lacking any prior journalistic experience, to the great irritation of many old hands on Fleet Street.
The 45-year-old revealed that, despite having pledged to reduce immigration in both its 2010 and 2015 general election manifestos, the Tory leadership secretly abandoned this ambition long ago.
“Over the past seven years, the Government has not been able to reduce significantly the numbers of non-Europeans coming here — though we could,” he boasted.
“The damage to the economy from seriously reducing work visas was judged too severe by an expert migration committee; the impact on community relations of further limiting family reunion visas was seen as unpalatable; and few thought we were taking in too many refugees.”
He concluded by asserting that, “There are no other groups we can turn away,” urging the prime minister to “sweep away this bad policy from the past”.
Responding, Brexit campaign leader and former UKIP supremo Nigel Farage told the Guido Fawkes website: “In admitting that the Tories never planned to keep their promises on immigration, and that the Cabinet does not even support reducing migration, I suspect for once George Osborne has got something right.”
A spokesman for UKIP, now led by Paul Nuttall, told Guido that Osborne had “blown the gaff” with his editorial.
“For the last seven years the Tories have been knowingly lying about their inability to reduce immigration. Now Amber Rudd has been passed the baton by the Prime Minister to carry on doing so.
“It used to be said that it was the job of the Diplomatic Service to lie for Britain. It now seems to be the job of the Home Office to lie to Britain.”
Figures released Wednesday appear to show the number of workers in Britain born abroad have reached a record high of 5.64 million, greater than the entire population of Scotland.
These figures are not inclusive of migrants in Britain who are not working, or who are in the country illegally.