PM Rishi Sunak Has no New Border Control Ideas Amid Record Migration Figures Scandal

Fresh figures published Thursday showed migration growing the United Kingdom by 672,000 people in the year to June, the highest such period in recorded history, but when asked what he would do about it, the Prime Minister seemed sanguine, saying only “we will look at that”.

The UK Conservatives have promised to cut immigration in every national election for decades, but after 13 years in power and the country seeing the highest levels of arrivals in known human history to Great Britain, it is increasingly clear migration is either a subject of incompetence or dishonesty for the Party. On Thursday the government’s independent statistical body published its latest migration estimates which showed in the eyar to June 672,000 more people arrived in the UK than left, a figure tens of thousands higher than the same period the year before, and the highest ever.

Revised year-end figures for 2022 put net arrivals at 745,000, a yet higher figure, but there is not yet an equivalent period of data from this year for meaningful comparison.

While functionally open borders could be an acute source of embarrassment for the Conservatives and Rishi Sunak, they appear reasonably unconcerned, with the Prime Minister giving a breezy television interview on the subject Friday morning in which he said his government would look into areas where the visa system was being abused, but made no indication whatsoever to suggest broader change could be in the offing.

“I’m very clear that the levels of migration are too high, and they’ve got to come down to more sustainable levels”, Sunak said, telling the BBC that a months-old policy to crack down on the number of family members people traveling to the United Kingdom on a student visa would help. While it is true abuse of student visas is a problem and has been going on for many years, this of course does nothing to address that the UK immigration system is expressly designed to admit very high numbers of migrants because the government has decided growing GDP, regardless of the cost to society and how that defies the repeatedly expressed views of voters, is their overriding priority.

Asked whether he would consider more drastic moves to curb legal migration such as increasing the salary level at which a visa would be issued for an immigration worker, or even establish an outright annual cap on arrivals, Sunak sidestepped the question altogether. Instead, he again referred to areas where the already incredibly generous immigration system was being abused further, saying: “But of course if there are other areas where there are abuse happening, we will look at that and we will clamp down on it.”

The Prime Minister’s noncommittal remarks follow claims this morning that cabinet minister Robert Jenrick has been internally circulating a memo in government with proposals to cut migration. The BBC reports he is said to be suggesting “radical” moves like increasing the requirements migrants must meet to get a visa and reducing the number of family members migrants being recruited into healthcare can bring with them.

A considerable part of the issue for the Conservatives at this stage appears to be while they have repeatedly promised to cut migration at election time, there is little indication they ever really intended to keep their word on the matter and some remarks appear to make clear the promises were outright lies. Most infamously, perhaps, were the comments of former Chancellor of the Exchequer and co-architect of the move to divorce the Conservative party from conservatism George Osborne who wrote the Tories could have cut migration if they wanted to, but simply did not.

Worded slightly more delicately — but not much — are fresh comments today from another veteran of the Cameron-Osborne era, Craig Oliver, who called the longstanding and frequently repeated promises to cut migration a “strategic error”. Oliver said it was wrong to have pretended to the public that there are “simple” solutions on migration and said it was now time to have a “grown-up conversation on immigration”, an apparent tacit admission that he believes voters had been treated like children on the subject to this point.

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