23 November 2023
At the last election, every Conservative MP was elected on a solemn promise to reduce net migration, which in 2019 stood at 229,000 per year. Since then, in poll after poll, the public have made clear that they are prepared to support tough measures to clamp down on overall migration numbers: legal and illegal.
Yet, over the course of this Parliament, many on our benches have warned that we were failing to make adequate progress on our promise. In June, Tom Hunt MP authored the New Conservatives’ comprehensive plan to meet our commitment to reduce overall net migration. Sadly, the proposals that we put forward have been largely ignored.
Today, we see the result of these conscious decisions by Government. Net migration has not only failed to fall since 2019, it has trebled. A million new people from abroad were added to the UK population last year. Across every single category of immigration, numbers are on the rise. We cannot blame exceptional circumstances; this is a consistent trend. It has been caused directly by the policy decisions of this Government. And it has gone on for far too long.
For the Treasury, there may be reasonable arguments for increasing immigration – because more people translates into more recorded economic activity – but the truth is the public won’t accept it. Our voters can tell the difference between real economic growth that improves the standard of living for ordinary households, and the phantom ‘growth’ that importing ever more people puts on a Treasury spreadsheet.
High rates of immigration depress wages, reduce investment in skills and technology, put unsustainable pressure on housing and public services, and threaten community cohesion.
The word ‘existential’ has been used a lot in recent days but this really is ‘do or die’ for our party. Each of us made a promise to the electorate. We don’t believe that such promises can be ignored.
The Government must propose, today, a comprehensive package of measures to meet the manifesto promise by the time of the next election. We will assess any such package and report publicly on whether it will meet the promise made to the electorate.
The Prime Minister, Chancellor, and new Home Secretary must show that they stand by the promises on which we were elected to Parliament. We must act now