Rishi Sunak faces a Conservative revolt over record-high migrant figures

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick is understood to be pushing to cap the number of NHS and social care visas.

Rachel Vickers-Price
Friday 24 November 2023 05:35 GMT

Related video: Rishi Sunak says immigration numbers are ‘too high’ as they hit new record

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing a backlash from senior members of his own party after new figures revealed migration is at an all-time high.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick is understood to be pushing for a five-point migration plan while The Daily Telegraph says other Tory MPs are demanding “immediate and massive” action to meet the Conservative pledge to reduce the number of migrants moving to the UK.

Other cabinet ministers are demanding a crackdown on visas for foreign workers relocating to the United Kingdom to work for the NHS or in the care sector.

Mr Jenrick is understood to be pushing for a ban on foreign social care workers from bringing in any dependents and a cap on the total number of NHS and social care visas.

His plan would also see the shortage occupation list scrapped, a program that allows foreign workers to be paid 20 per cent below the going rate in roles that suffer from a shortage of skilled workers.

Net migration peaked at 745,000 in the year to December 2022, which is a record high according to revised estimates published by the Office for National Statistics on Thursday.

The data places migration levels at three higher than migration pre-Brexit.

Other newly released data also indicated that net migration for 2023, up until June, stood at 672,000.

That figure has risen from 607,000 for the same period in the previous 12 months.

The figures also indicate that, in total, 1.279 million more people have come to the UK than have exited it during the past two years.

Foreign health and social care workers migrated with a total of 173,896 dependants with 143,990 workers.

It is estimated that introducing a higher threshold could reduce long-term migration by more than 50,000 people per year.

The Government’s migration advisory committee has already recommended the nixing of the shortage occupation list amid fears it was being used to bring in cheap foreign labour into the UK.

Home secretary James Cleverly seemed to play down the figures from the ONS, telling The Times: “This figure is not showing a significant increase from last year’s figures and is largely in line with our immigration statistics.”

His predecessor Suella Braverman, sacked from her cabinet role last week, said on social media: “Today’s record numbers are a slap in the face to the British public who have voted to control and reduce migration at every opportunity.

“We must act now to reduce migration to sustainable levels. Brexit gave us the tools. It’s time to use them.”

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