Prime minister David Cameron has suggested that he might not be able to deliver his promise to reduce the country's net migration figure to the tends of thousands before the next election.
During a visit to China, he said that the government needs time to make "further progress", adding that the lack of agreement between his Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats has hampered efforts to cut the number of people moving to Britain.
According to the latest UK immigration figures, net migration actually increased over the past year by around 15,000 to 182,000 in the year to June. This was partly driven by emigration, but the number of people moving to the UK from within the European Union has also increased.
Cameron has stated that the increase in European migration is causing particular problems because it is not within his control. Reiterating that this kind of action takes "an amount of time to be dealt with", he said: "I made the pledge of trying to get net migration down to the tens of thousands, rather than the hundreds of thousands, on the basis that, actually, over the previous period migration flows within Europe have been relatively balancing out; when it’s been migration from outside Europe that’s been topping up the numbers."
The Telegraph reported that Cameron said he would like to go further on UK immigration regulations. The prime minister suggested that the Lib Dem's were holding the Conservatives back when it came to this issue.
Cameron's restrictions and efforts to reduce UK immigration figures have been criticised by many who see the rules as potentially discouraging business and innovation within the UK by making it harder for the brightest and the best to move to the country.