Immigration crackdown is not racist, insists Howard

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Indy Politics

Britain cannot successfully absorb the number of immigrants settling here every year, Conservative leader Michael Howard warned today.

Britain cannot successfully absorb the number of immigrants settling here every year, Conservative leader Michael Howard warned today.

In a keynote speech on immigration and asylum delivered at his party's campaign headquarters in London, Mr Howard set out proposals to set an annual limit to immigration, including a quota for asylum seekers.

He also highlighted plans to put in place 24–hour security at ports to combat illegal immigration, and to institute an Australian–style points system for work permits – giving priority to those with skills the country needs.

And immigration rules would be tightened to stop "sham" marriages.

Taken together, Mr Howard said, the package would lead to a "substantial reduction in the number of people settling in the UK".

Mr Howard insisted that raising immigration as an election issue was not racist, but rather common sense.

The Tory leader argued that the scale of immigration into Britain has become a problem which must be tackled.

"There are literally millions of people in other countries who would like to come and live here. Britain cannot take them all," Mr Howard cautioned.

Mr Howard, himself the son of a Romanian immigration to south Wales, stressed that immigrants have contributed significantly to the economy and culture of Britain.

However, he went on: "But any system of immigration must be properly controlled and limited.

"Tony Blair has presided over an unprecedented rise in immigration – it has more than doubled since Mr Blair came to power.

"Nearly 160,000 people now settle in Britain each year – that is a city the size of Peterborough.

"According to the Government's own predictions, Britain's population will grow by six million over the next 30 years of which five million will be due to immigration – that is equivalent to five times the population of Birmingham.

"I think most people would agree that Britain has reached a turning point.

"They know that our communities cannot successfully absorb newcomers at today's pace.

"But Mr Blair's Government has turned a blind eye to their concerns.

"We need to change direction.

"We need a government that stops talking about this issue and acts."



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