Liam Fox, the leading Brexiteer and International Trade Secretary, has hinted the Tory government could drop their target to slash immigration below 100,000 a year and introduce a two-tiered immigration system with Brexit.
The longstanding target, brought in by former Prime Minister David Cameron, has been called unenforceable because of open border rules with the European Union (EU).
Some who voted for Brexit hoped it would be honoured after Brexit when the UK takes back control of its borders.
However, in an interview Monday, Mr Fox was unenthusiastic about the target and suggested it could be reviewed rather than enforced after the divorce.
“Naturally, as a member of the cabinet, I support the government’s policy,” he told LBC radio Monday. “But I think we do need to look in the future at how we match our employment opportunities with our migration policy.”
Mr Cameron made the pledge in 2010 when Theresa May was home secretary. As prime minister, she preserved the target in last year’s Conservative Party manifesto despite net migration rising to 282,000 in 2017.
One in three babies born in England and Wales had at least one foreign parent. https://t.co/7gLoXHFhXP
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 24, 2017
Pushed on if he thought the policy was correct, Dr Fox told LBC: “Well, that is the government’s target at the moment. We will be reviewing what we do post-Brexit.”
During the radio interview, Dr Fox also said he favours a two-tier immigration system after Brexit, giving an advantage to those who want to come to the UK because they have a job offer.
“I think the public can differentiate between people who come here with a job and will be contributing to the economy and those who under free movement were able to come to the United Kingdom and use our public services without ever having contributed to them,” he said
Adding: “We need to look in the future at how we match our employment opportunities with our migration policy,” suggesting he favoured a two-tier system.
Official figures suggest Britain’s population passed 66 million in 2017, with the majority of the growth coming from immigration.