Immigration levels must come down, Braverman to tell Tory gathering
Overall immigration to the UK must come down, Suella Braverman is set to tell a Conservative conference on Monday.
The Home Secretary will use a speech in London to stress the need for the Tories to re-commit to the party’s 2019 manifesto commitment, which on immigration promised “fewer lower-skilled migrants and overall numbers will come down”.
Ms Braverman will be among the star turns at the National Conservativism Conference on Monday, with the gathering of senior ministers, Tory MPs, right-wing commentators and others coming only days after Rishi Sunak’s party lost nearly 1,000 councillors at the local elections.
Her speech at the three-day event comes amid renewed unrest in the party, with Brexiteers angered by the decision to scale back post-Brexit plans to scrap EU laws.
A conference by the Conservative Democratic Organisation, held over the weekend and organised primarily by backers of former prime minister Boris Johnson, also heard criticism of Mr Sunak and the party leadership.
Ms Braverman is expected to tell the conference: “I voted and campaigned for Brexit because I wanted Britain to control migration. So that we all have a say on what works for our country.
“High-skilled workers support economic growth. Fact.
“But we need to get overall immigration numbers down. And we mustn’t forget how to do things for ourselves.
“There is no good reason why we can’t train up enough HGV drivers, butchers or fruit pickers. Brexit enables us to build a high-skilled, high wage economy that is less dependent on low-skilled foreign labour.
“That was our 2019 manifesto pledge and what we must deliver.”
Her comments also come as ministers are reportedly braced for official figures released later in May to show net migration of between 650,000 and 997,000.
This would surpass the previous peak of 504,000 in the year to June 2022, with the numbers likely to place fresh pressure on Mr Sunak.
The Home Secretary will also use the speech to hit back at critics of her language and rhetoric, with Ms Braverman expected to argue that it is “not racist” to want to control the UK’s borders.
She will also say that there is nothing wrong with someone from an ethnic minority background making such arguments.
Ms Braverman will say: “It’s not xenophobic to say that mass and rapid migration is unsustainable in terms of housing supply, service and community relations.
“Nor is it bigoted to say that too many people come here illegally and claim asylum, and we have insufficient accommodation for them.
“I’m not embarrassed to say that I love Britain. No true conservative is. It’s not racist for anyone, ethnic minority or otherwise, to want to control our borders.
“I reject the left’s argument that it is hypocritical for someone from an ethnic minority to know these facts; to speak these truths.
“My parents came here through legal and controlled migration. They spoke the language. They threw themselves into the community, embraced British values.
“When they arrived they signed up to be part of our shared project because the UK meant something to them. Integration was part of the quid pro quo.”
The Government’s approach to “stop the boats” came under fresh criticism in recent days, after the Archbishop of Canterbury weighed in to label ministers’ plans “morally unacceptable and politically impractical”.
It came during a House of Lords debate on the Illegal Migration Bill, which aims to ensure that people arriving in the UK without permission will be detained and swiftly removed, either to their home country or a third nation such as Rwanda.