Cabinet split over Braverman's plans to slash migration
17th May 2023

Cabinet split by Suella Braverman’s plans to crackdown on migrants after it was revealed 1.1million foreign workers and students could arrive next year

  • The Home Secretary is exploring options to reduce rising numbers of migrants
  • But the Cabinet has not agreed to any of the Home Secretary’s proposals so far 

Ministers have yet to agree a slew of measures drawn up by Suella Braverman to slash migration.

After officials predicted that arrivals of foreign workers and students could hit 1.1 million in 2024, the Home Secretary proposed five ways to reduce the growing numbers.

They included increasing minimum salaries for companies employing skilled workers and restrictions on bringing spouses to the UK, according to The Times.

She also proposed cutting the time foreign students can stay in the UK after their course, banning family members, and removing students if they fail to finish their course. 

But none of the measures have been agreed by the Cabinet. Only one limited plan – banning foreign Master’s students from bringing relatives – is in train.

Secretary of State for the Home Department Suella Braverman leaves 10 Downing Street after attending the Weekly Cabinet Meeting in London, United Kingdom on May 16, 2023

Ministers are split over the plans, with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, and Health Secretary Steve Barclay thought to be blocking the policies.

Since entering No 10, Rishi Sunak has focused on illegal migration and has made it easier for some industries suffering labour shortages to recruit from overseas.  

The cap on seasonal workers was lifted in December from 30,000 to 45,000, and on Tuesday the Government said the scheme would be extended into next year. 

And in the Budget, Mr Hunt announced five construction jobs were being added to the shortage occupation list.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the Government ‘remains committed to reducing net migration over time’ while ensuring that the economy ‘has the skills we need’. 

On Tuesday it emerged that the Home Office had privately shared figures with No10 suggesting more than 1.1 million foreign workers and students could legally arrive in Britain in 2024/25, just as the Tories face a general election test.

Mr Sunak’s spokesman said there was no specific target on reducing migration and that the ‘priority is tackling illegal migration in the first instance’.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman speaking during the National Conservatism Conference at the Emmanuel Centre, central London. Picture date: Monday May 15, 2023

Official figures to be released next week are expected to show net migration of between 650,000 and 997,000 in 2022. 

The 2019 Conservative Party manifesto pledged only that overall migrant numbers would ‘come down’.

Meanwhile, Mrs Braverman told the National Conservatism conference on Monday that the UK should train its own fruit pickers, but the Environment Secretary Therese Coffey told a food summit in Downing Street on Tuesday that the seasonal workers scheme would be extended.

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