Rishi Sunak has pledged to “restrict” immigration and acknowledged, amidst increasing frustration from fellow Conservatives over his previous actions, that there is still “a significant amount of work” needed to decrease the high influx of immigrants to the UK.
Earlier in the week, official data revealed that net migration has reached an all-time high, leading to criticism from Boris Johnson, Suella Braverman, and other conservative politicians for Rishi Sunak’s failure to fulfill the government’s promise in the 2019 Tory manifesto to decrease overall migration numbers.
At first, Sunak declined to respond when questioned about apologizing for not fulfilling this promise made by Johnson.
On Thursday, the Office for National Statistics announced that net migration to the UK reached its highest point at 745,000 in the period of December 2022, indicating that approximately 750,000 more individuals legally entered the UK compared to those who departed.
The number is three times greater than the levels observed prior to Brexit.
In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, the prime minister stated that there is still much work to be done and action must be taken. He previously announced stricter regulations on the number of dependents that students are allowed to bring, as there has been a noticeable increase in recent years.
“This is the most significant restriction on legal migration that has been announced in years. It demonstrates my strong determination to decrease these numbers.”
He also mentioned that we will not hesitate to take action and crack down on any other instances of abuse that we come across.
The plan created by the immigration minister, Robert Jenrick, is intended to satisfy the demands of conservative Tories who are calling for government action.
He is reportedly planning to eliminate the shortage occupation list, a program that permits foreign employees to be paid 20% less than the standard wage in positions where there is a lack of skilled workers.
The government’s migration advisory committee has suggested getting rid of the list due to concerns that it is being used to import inexpensive foreign workers into the UK.
When questioned by reporters, Downing Street declined to comment on Sunak’s reaction to Jenrick’s suggestions, stating that they will not be providing updates on policy development.
Efforts to reduce the influx of skilled workers entering the UK are expected to face opposition and frustration from employees in the NHS and social care sectors, which are currently facing significant staffing shortages.
Sunak attempted to justify his stance on immigration by emphasizing a decrease in the influx of individuals arriving by small boats through the Channel.
He stated, “I have been in this position for a year and have already decreased the numbers by a third. Therefore, I believe people can have confidence in my ability to follow through on my promises and deliver results.”
“I must complete the task at hand, which involves launching the Rwanda deal. I am willing to take any necessary actions to ensure that the project is operational.”
Sunak has promised that a “foreign court” will not be able to prevent flights to Rwanda. He has proposed a new treaty and emergency laws to secure the legality of this plan.
However, it was the highest court in the United Kingdom, not a court from another country, that delivered the most recent setback to the government’s efforts to deport asylum seekers who enter the UK on a one-way flight to Rwanda.
Sunak denied Braverman’s claims that she had made an agreement with him to endorse his bid for leadership in return for certain commitments.
“During a leadership election, it is natural to engage in conversations with multiple individuals, not just Suella,” stated Sunak.
When asked if she could provide evidence of the agreement, he responded, “That is a matter for her. My focus is on delivering tangible results.”
Sunak stated to the Mail on Sunday that Jeremy Hunt’s recent autumn statement, focused on tax cuts, is just the beginning of a larger plan. This suggests that Sunak is considering additional tax cuts before the next general election, set to take place by 28 January 2025 at the latest.
According to Sunak, the government plans to exceed expectations with tax cuts. He has long advocated for tax reductions, but prioritized addressing inflation and stabilizing the economy first.
“We have successfully achieved our goal, and it was not a result of chance. The chancellor and I made some challenging decisions that faced criticism and opposition from the Labour party, in order to reduce inflation and prove the doubters wrong.”
Despite initial predictions of a recession in the UK this year, our economy has actually experienced growth. As a result, our economic policy can now adjust accordingly.
He stated, “This marks the beginning of a journey. We will continue to make progress as much as we can, as I am committed to reducing taxes, recognizing diligence, stimulating the economy, and doing so in a responsible manner.”
The government’s Office for Budget Responsibility reports that Hunt’s 2p reduction in national insurance will only counteract a quarter of the personal tax increases implemented since 2021, such as the freezing of allowances and national insurance thresholds.
According to the Resolution Foundation thinktank, the average household in the UK will see a decrease of £1,900 in their finances by the end of this parliament. Hunt’s proposed tax cuts are expected to benefit the top fifth of households in Britain the most, with an average gain of £1,000. This is five times more than the projected gain of only £200 for the bottom 20%, which includes a 2p reduction in national insurance.