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Next PM will likely ditch UK immigration target, but what comes next?

Two former immigration ministers along with an influential think tank have renewed calls on Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt to ditch the UK’s immigration target, which has not been met in nearly a decade.

With both hopefuls for the conservative leadership already committed to abolishing the policy, which was repeatedly included in Tory manifestos and which Theresa May refused to budge from, it now seems inevitable that the target will be scrapped.

But with neither Johnson or Hunt yet to fully unveil their thoughts on what will replace the failed strategy to control net migration, it remains unclear on what will come next as an influential centre-right think tank calls on the next prime minister to unveil a “detailed and long-term sustainable immigration plan”.

Former immigration ministers and advisors join to urge reform

The report from Onward, penned by two former immigration advisors and backed by Communities Secretary James Brokenshire and former leadership candidate Mark Harper – who both served as conservative immigration ministers – proposes a staged commitment to reducing low and medium-skilled immigration with a new Office for Migration Responsibility established to monitor the government’s record on the issue. Ministers would present the plan to Parliament for debate in the same way required for spending and taxation policies.

A target missed by more than a million

Analysis by Onward included in the report showed that had the Conservative government achieved its pledge, immigration levels would have been 1.4 million lower between 2010 and 2018. The target, originally unveiled by David Cameron, aimed to reduce net migration levels to under 100,000 per annum. Last year alone, over a quarter of a million more people came to live in Britain than left its shores.

Tory leadership front runner Johnson has already committed to the introduction of an Australian style points-based system to control immigration should he be installed as the next prime minister when the contest to become Conservative leader reaches a conclusion on July 23rd.


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