Author: Ashley Cowburn
Home secretary Sajid Javid has failed to endorse the government’s highly contentious target to bring net migration below 100,000.
His comments came as he was grilled by Yvette Cooper, the chair of the home affairs select committee, on the eight-year-old aim to bring immigration down to the “tens of thousands” – one that has never been met by ministers.
Asked whether the immigration target was a “massive chain around your neck” and whether he wanted to “ditch it”, Mr Javid smirked and simply replied: “next question”.
Last year’s Conservative manifesto said reducing immigration to the tens of thousands was the party’s “objective”, but during the general election campaign Ms May confirmed she “would be working” to achieve the target by 2022.
The Independent and the Open Britain group are running the Drop the Target campaign urging the Government to abandon the “tens of thousands” goal.
Asked whether it was an objective of the post-Brexit migration system to meet the net migration target, Mr Javid said: “It will be an objective of the post-Brexit migration system to bring down immigration, in the long term, to sustainable levels”.
He refused to be drawn on numbers, adding: “As we set out in our white paper what that system may look like… then we can’t start talking about what numbers might look like but not at this point.”
Earlier this year, Mr Javid was also questioned on another controversial aspect of the government’s immigration policy of including students in the net migration figures, which he admitted had a “perception problem”.
Told it was “not very welcoming”, he replied: “I empathise with that point, and it is something that I have long considered. It is not my most urgent priority [but] it is something I would like to look at again.”