We got it wrong on immigration, says Johnson

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Indy Politics

The Home Secretary admitted yesterday the Government had made serious mistakes over immigration and in the aftermath of the 7 July bombings. Alan Johnson confessed Labour had been "maladroit" in its handling of immigration and accepted ministers had ignored for "far too long" the problems that led to a backlog of 450,000 unprocessed claims.

Mr Johnson also acknowledged parts of Britain were struggling to cope. In his first speech on the subject, he said: "There are communities which have been disproportionately affected by immigration, where people have legitimate concerns about the strain that the growth in the local population has placed on jobs and services."

He argued progress was being made, saying: "While I accept that governments of both persuasions, including this one, have been maladroit in their handling of this issue, I do believe that the UK is now far more successful at tackling immigration than most of its European and North American neighbours."

His comments mark a striking change of tone. Only recently, Mr Johnson insisted he did not "lie awake at night" worrying about Britain's population reaching 70 million. The Home Secretary also conceded that some anti-terror proposals, such as the detention of suspects for up to 90 days without trial, had gone too far. "That probably was an understandable feeling: that we should be more draconian. But perhaps that wasn't the right way to go," he said.