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Jacob Rees-Mogg slams Theresa May’s ‘idiotic’ 100,000 immigration target

Liz Bates

2 min read

Leading Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg has hit out at the Government’s controversial 100,000 annual migration target.

The Conservative backbencher said the target - which Theresa May has consistently championed since it was introduced in 2010 - was “plucked out of the air”.

He also hit out at current rules preventing doctors from coming to Britain, despite staff shortages in the NHS.  

And he argued Brexit was not about “pulling up the drawbridge” but should instead focus on controlling the number of people coming in to Britain.

He told the BBC’s Daily Politics: “I think the issue with leaving Europe is about controlling immigration and deciding what is in our interest, not about pulling up the drawbridge, and our current immigration system does idiotic things. A few weeks ago we wouldn’t allow in 100 Indian doctors when the NHS is crying out for doctors.      

“We seem to have an immigration system that is so focussed on being authoritarian, so focussed on the rules… and too focussed on a number that was plucked out of the air.”

His remarks echo those of Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, who yesterday called for a review of the UK’s approach to immigration - including the 100,000 target - in the wake of the Windrush scandal, which she said left her “hurt” and “angry”.

She also suggested foreign students could be taken out of official immigration figures - a move which has been repeatedly rejected by Mrs May.

Responding to the comments, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “I’m very sympathetic to what Ruth is saying about this and I think this is very important.”


He also sided with the Scottish Tory leader over her assertion that some Tories can be “dour” and “joyless”.      

“I think it’s a very reasonable criticism to make actually,” he said. “I think politics can easily be boring - the Tory party, and we need cheering up.

“That’s why Boris is so popular because he brings sunshine into political life and Ruth herself cheers everybody up and that makes people interested in politics.”

Asked if he thought the Prime Minster looked like she was enjoying Brexit, he replied: “She doesn’t give that impression, she gives the impression that she is doing her duty.

“Let’s put it in cricketing terms: she’s Jeffrey Boycott not David Gower – and both have huge virtues.”    

He added: “I think the Prime Minister is dutiful and I think duty is brilliant, but I think politics ought also to be fun.”

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