Home Secretary James Cleverly unveils new immigration crackdown plans

James Cleverly unveiled a tough new crackdown to slash immigration by a record 300,000.

The Home Secretary said “enough is enough” as set out bold plans to make it significantly harder to employ foreign workers, with stricter rules on bringing family members to Britain.

He insisted the five-point plan was made possible because Brexit means the UK can now control its borders properly.

Downing Street said it represents the “biggest clampdown on legal migration ever”.

Mr Cleverly’s hardline approach comes amid Tory anger about the Rwanda deportation scheme being blocked in the courts and net migration hitting 745,000 last year.

Don’t miss… James Cleverly unveils 5-point plan to bring down record net migration numbers

The measures, which will be introduced in 2024, include changes to health and care visas, skilled worker visas, family visas, the shortage occupation list and student visas.

Announcing the plan in the Commons the Home Secretary said net migration is “far too high” and the latest announcements underline that the Tories are doing more than “any other government” to cut it.

The issue is set to be a clear dividing line in next year’s general election amid warnings that Sir Keir Starmer’s party could drive up immigration by 100,000 a year.

Mr Cleverly told MPs: “When our country voted to leave the European Union, we voted to take back control of our borders.

“Thanks to this Conservative government, we now have a points-based immigration system through which we control who comes to the UK.

“We prioritise the skills and talent we need to grow our economy and support our NHS – and
we have a competitive visa system for globally-mobile talent.”

He added: “Immigration policy must be fair, consistent, legal, and sustainable.”

The huge announcement comes just three weeks after Mr Cleverly replaced Suella Braverman in the job.

Under the plans the Home Secretary said overseas care workers will be barred from bringing family dependants and the salary threshold for skilled workers will be hiked to £38,700.

He also vowed to scrap “cut-price” labour by stopping shortage occupations, being able to pay 20 per cent less than the going rate and reforming the shortage occupation list.

The minimum income for family visas would be raised to £38,700 from £26,200, from next spring, he said.

And he said the Migration Advisory Committee would review the graduate immigration route to prevent abuse.

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He also said the Government would increase the health surcharge this year by 66 per cent from £624 to £1,035.

“Enough is enough. We are curbing abuses to the health care visa,” he told the Commons.

Mr Cleverly said around 120,000 dependants accompanied 100,000 care workers in the year up to September as he battles to bring down overall levels.

He said the plan, along with changes for international students, “will deliver the biggest ever reduction in net migration”.

In total, he said it would mean around 300,000 fewer people will come to Britain in future years than last year.

The new plans were broadly welcomed by Tory MPs.

Jonathan Gullis said his constituents in Stoke-on-Trent North would welcome the announcements.

Conservative backbencher Tom Hunt described the plan as a “significant step forward”.

But Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said the “cruel plans spell total disaster for the NHS and social care”.

“Migrant workers were encouraged to come here because both sectors are critically short of staff. Hospitals and care homes simply couldn’t function without them,” she said.

The salary threshold increase is lower than the £40,000 in the deal the Prime Minister allegedly agreed with his since-sacked home secretary Suella Braverman to win her support for the Tory leadership.

Privately, two Whitehall sources said, Mrs Braverman and immigration minister Robert Jenrick had pushed for the cap to go higher, to £45,000.

Mr Sunak has been under growing pressure from Tory MPs after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revised its net migration figure to put 2022 at a record high of 745,000.

Accounting for the difference between the number of people arriving in the country and those leaving, the figure for the year to June 2023 is estimated to have been slightly lower, at 672,000.

Some of the increase has been attributed to humanitarian inflows from Hong Kong, Ukraine and Afghanistan. But rises in numbers of workers and dependents have also driven the total.

The population of England and Wales has now passed 60million for the first time after growing at the fastest rate since 1962.

The Prime Minister has sought to blame the “very large numbers” on his predecessors, saying he had “inherited” the levels.

They are three times higher than before Brexit despite the 2019 Tory election manifesto promising to bring overall numbers down.

He is also facing a challenge to deliver his pledge to “stop the boats” crossing the Channel after his flagship asylum policy was deemed unlawful by the Supreme Court.

Mr Cleverly is expected to head to Kigali as early as today (Tue) to finalise a new treaty with Rwanda, which ministers hope will help convince judges otherwise.

No 10 said they were still working “urgently” to secure the deal and to produce “emergency” legislation which was promised after the legal defeat last month.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of being in a “chaotic panic” over immigration.

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