Extra 1,300 immigration staff at UK borders because of Brexit, says Rudd

The Home Office is recruiting an additional 1,000 border staff to beef up checks at ports and airports after Brexit, Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced.

The announcement brings to 1,300 the number of additional border officers who will be in place by the end of the UK's transition out of the EU in 2021.

The Home Office has already announced a further 1,200 caseworkers to process EU nationals' claims to settled status in the UK after Brexit, while HM Revenue & Customs is expected to need thousands of staff to deal with extra work.

The announcement came in a bruising clash with Commons Home Affairs Committee chair Yvette Cooper, who questioned whether the Home Secretary was being "honest and open" with the public about immigration.

Ms Rudd repeatedly dodged Ms Cooper's demand to say whether she was still aiming to meet the Government's goal of reducing net migration below 100,000 by the time of the 2022 election.

After receiving the reply from the Home Secretary that she was "still focused on making sure that we continue to reduce net migration to sustainable levels", Ms Cooper asked: "Is that yes or no to the target?"

Ms Rudd responded: "I think I have given my answer."

Ms Cooper said that the Government's target could be met only by transforming the current net immigration of around 100,000 EU citizens into the UK each year into a net outflow of 50,000 after Brexit, given that measures to reduce non-EU immigration had already been tried.

Grilling Ms Rudd at a hearing of the Home Affairs Committee in Westminster, she repeatedly demanded to know whether the Home Office was drawing up plans to achieve this.

But the Home Secretary responded only that the target was "challenging", adding: "It is a concern to many people, particularly the people who voted to leave the EU, that immigration is too high, so I will be making sure that we continue to reduce it."

She repeatedly stressed that she was also concerned to help businesses in being able to employ the staff they need and universities to recruit overseas students.

And she declined to say what immigration arrangements the Government was seeking in the agreement on Britain's future relationship with the EU, saying that this was a matter for Theresa May and Brexit Secretary David Davis.

Ms Cooper told her: "The problem is you have got a net migration target on one hand, you have got some unknown hidden objectives in the negotiations on the other, but none of us have any idea what they are. Do you think you are remotely being honest and open with the public about what future immigration policy and reality will be?"

Ms Rudd replied: "I think what the public want is to make sure they have a Government that is committed to reducing the high numbers of net migration, and they are seeing that with this Government."

Home Office permanent secretary Philip Rutnam told the committee that the Treasury had provided £60 million in 2017/18 to pay for Brexit preparations, which was largely spent on investment in technology and recruiting 1,200 caseworkers.

A further £395 million in 2018/19 includes around £150 million to strengthen the borders and £170 million to develop the system for EU nationals to claim settled status in the UK, due to come into operation later this year.

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