The Prime Minister’s pledge to reduce net UK immigration to the tens of thousands has come under fire from two former senior Conservatives.
Both former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke and ex-party chair, Lady Warsi, criticised David Cameron’s pledge for setting unrealistic expectations.
Mr Clarke called the net migration target a “mistake”. He said he had been told the figure was almost the same as when he had been Home Secretary but he pointed out the UK is now in a more globalised economy.
The former Minister said the Conservatives should drop the target because it would not be possible to achieve without “quite severely” damaging the UK economy.
Meanwhile, Baroness Warsi said the target was unrealistic and by publishing figures that could not be reached, the Government was “fuelling the perception” that it “can’t get a grip”.
The latest figures for net migration for the UK, published last week, now stand at an almost-record 298,000 a year.
It now remains to be seen whether Mr Cameron will react to the criticism from within his own party and the new figures by leaving the 'tens of thousands' commitment out of the Conservative Party manifesto for the forthcoming general election.
The pledge was originally made in 2010, and although Mr Cameron has already spoken of including “new metrics” to measure how net UK migration is being reduced, no details have yet been issued.
The Government has conceded it is unable to reduce the number of people migrating to the UK from other parts of the European Union. Instead, it has attempted to decrease the flow via financial measures to stop migrants from claiming certain benefits or tax credits.