May reaffirms commitment to Tory target to cut immigration

Theresa May has said the Government remains committed to getting immigration down to the tens of thousands after Home Secretary Sajid Javid appeared to call into question the target.

During an interview on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Mr Javid said the Government's immigration white paper set out plans to reduce immigration to "sustainable" levels but did not include a "specific target".

He insisted the Government was not abandoning pledges made in the Conservative general election manifesto.

Pressed repeatedly by presenter John Humphrys to repeat the commitment – first made by David Cameron – that they would get annual net migration down below 100,000 – he declined to do so.


"There is no specific target. It will be a system that will bring net migration down to more sustainable levels," he said.

"If you look at the current level of migration, the latest stats show 273,000. Most people agree that is very high, certainly by historical standards.

"In the last two decades it has been in the hundreds of thousands. If you go back further than that, it was much lower.

"What we want to do is bring it to a level where it is sustainable in the sense that it meets first our economic need and at the same time it is not too high a burden on our communities or on our infrastructure."

Asked at Prime Minister's Questions by Labour MP Chris Elmore whether it was still the Government's intention to reduce immigration to the tens of thousands, Mrs May replied simply: "Yes."

The exchanges appeared to reflect the continuing tensions within Cabinet over the target, which has never been met under the Conservatives.

Mrs May has strongly resisted pressure to abandon the target from senior ministers, who argue it is not achievable.