Home secretary Suella Braverman accused of 'going to ground' after net migration record high
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has been accused of ‘going to ground’ after it was confirmed she will not publicly address new figures showing a record rise in net migration – prompting Labour to ask ‘What is the point of her?’
Ms Braverman has no plans to make a statement today, a Home Office spokeswoman told Metro.co.uk, after data published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed around 606,000 more people are estimated to have moved to the UK than left in the 12 months up to December last year.
The figures represent a failure by the Conservative party to deliver on a 2019 manifesto pledge to drive overall net migration figures down after the introduction of post-Brexit border controls.
Labour suggested the figures show the government is in ‘chaos’.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper told the Commons: ‘Today’s extraordinary figures, including doubling the number of work visas since the pandemic, show that the Conservatives have no plan and no grip on immigration.
‘Work visas are up 119% since before the pandemic.
‘Net migration is more than twice the level that ministers were aiming for, and considerably more than that compared to the Home Secretary’s claimed aims.
‘The asylum backlog is at a record high, the opposite of the Prime Minister’s promise to clear the backlog this year, and less than 1% of last year’s small boat arrivals have had a decision.
‘Yet where is the Home Secretary who is in charge of these policies?
‘She’s gone to ground, there are reports she is not even going to do media, she has not come to this House.'
Ms Cooper took a swipe at Ms Braverman over allegations she asked civil servants to help organise a one-on-one driving awareness course to avoid sitting with other motorists.
'...She is in internal meetings, presumably more private courses arranged by the civil service,' she added.
‘What is the point of her?’
Ms Cooper accused the Tories of ‘totally failing to tackle endemic skill shortages and get people back to work’ – days after Ms Braverman said more Brits should train as fruit pickers, butchers and lorry drivers, insisting there is ‘no good reason’ the UK cannot train its own workforce.
The net migration rise is up from 504,000 in the 12 months up to June last year – with the increase explained by people travelling from non-EU countries to work and study, as well as for humanitarian reasons from countries including Ukraine and Hong Kong.
The net migration figures also include overseas students – although there are signs people who arrived in 2021 to study are starting to depart the UK, the data shows.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, pictured in March, criticised the home secretary for failing to appear in the Commons today
It follows the introduction of tough new measures banning most foreign students from bringing their families here – as the government vows to ‘get the numbers down’.
When asked if the prime minister would like to apologise for failing to deliver the 2019 election manifesto promise, Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman insisted the government was ‘working to bring those numbers down’.
‘We've set out a significant package to do that just this week as well as all the work that goes alongside stopping the boats.
‘It's also important to understand what sits beneath some of those numbers, 114,000 Ukrainians coming over for example, 52,000 British nationals from Hong Kong.
‘We think that is something the public can be rightly proud of.’
But the official did concede that the number was ‘too high’ – adding that it was important to ‘strike the right balance about supporting our economy with getting those numbers down’.
A Home Office spokesperson added: ‘We remain committed to reducing overall net migration, while stopping the boats and delivering control of our borders, prioritising tackling abuse and preventing dangerous and illegal crossings.’
The government has come under fire for its controversial Illegal Immigration Bill, which proposes sending immigrants to Rwanda.
The policy was branded 'poisonous, performative politics' by the former co-leader of the Green party, Caroline Lucas and 'morally unacceptable' by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
Far-right leaders have praised the scheme, with Italy's deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini hailing the measures as ‘harsh but fair’.
Rishi Sunak says he is 'committed' to lowering migration
Human rights organisation Amnesty International said the ONS figures expose the 'pointless harm' of the 'toxic' political debate on immigration.
Amnesty International UK’s refugee and migrant rights director, Steve Valdez-Symonds, called on ministers to 'stop scapegoating refugees and migrants'.
'We need a major rethink of the entire immigration debate, no longer treating people as mere units of economic cost or benefit, and certainly not demonising - as Suella Braverman and others have done - the relatively small number of people who seek asylum in the UK.'