Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

May Vows to Keep Target for Slashing Immigration

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

May Vows to Keep Target for Slashing Immigration

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Murphy and Nicholas Cecil EXCLUSIVE

THERESA May today pledged to keep the Conservative target of slashing immigration to the "tens of thousands" despite alarm over skills shortages in the NHS.

The Prime Minister used a visit to Harrow, north-west London, to declare her aim of bringing numbers down from the current level of 273,000 to below 100,000 a target that the Government has failed to meet for the past six years in office.

"We will continue to say that we do want to bring net migration down to sustainable levels," she said. "We believe that is the tens of thousands."

She added: "Yesterday, a new French president was elected. He was elected with a strong mandate which he can take with him as a strong position in the negotiations.

"In the UK, we need to ensure we've got an equally strong mandate. Every vote for me and my team will strengthen my hand in those Brexit negotiations."

Although Mrs May was careful not to make a solid promise on numbers or timescale, her words alarmed managers in business and other sectors that rely on migrants to fill vacancies.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: "We have NHS trusts in London telling us of significant workforce gaps because it is harder to attract people from the EU."

An exclusive poll for the Evening Standard today found an overwhelming majority of Londoners think Britain should not close its doors to overseas students. More than two-thirds were against tighter restrictions on the numbers allowed to study at British universities, found YouGov. Londoners also believe on balance that Britain's universities would suffer damage if there are tougher curbs on immigration.

Will Higham, from business group London First, said there were already signs Brexit was deterring students.

"Since the referendum, the number of international students coming here has dropped by 30,000," he said. "This is a big loss to both the economy and to local communities. …

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