Business groups condemn Theresa May's 'irresponsible' immigration rhetoric

Posted On: 
6th October 2015

Business groups have blasted Theresa May as “irresponsible” after the Home Secretary used her Conservative conference speech to warn that immigration threatens Britain’s “cohesive society”.

Ms May called for a “system that allows us to control who comes to our country” as she argued there was “no case in the national interest for immigration of the scale we have experienced over the last decade”.

The comments have been condemned by the Institute of Directors and the CBI.



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Simon Walker, the IoD’s director general, called for “cool-headed leadership” from ministers.

“We are astonished by the irresponsible rhetoric and pandering to anti-immigration sentiment from the Home Secretary,” he said.

“It is yet another example of the Home Secretary turning away the world’s best and brightest, putting internal party politics ahead of the country, and helping our competitor economies instead of our own.

“The myth of the job-stealing-immigrant is nonsense. Immigrants do not steal jobs, they help fill vital skill shortages and, in doing so, create demand and more jobs. If they did steal jobs, we wouldn’t have the record levels of employment we currently do.

“It is about time the Home Office stopped undermining business and our own government’s efforts to secure productivity growth. Political leaders should stop vilifying migrants and acknowledge the hugely important contribution they make to this country’s economy.”


CBI boss John Cridland added that skilled migration had “been positive” for the UK, and called for the net migration target to be scrapped.

"I think the target should be abandoned. I don’t think the Government is going to achieve it - it’s the wrong target," he told Radio 4's World this Weekend.

"A net migration target is unachievable because it can’t allow for how many people choose to leave the county. It would be much more sensible to have a gross target – how many people are coming in."

He said all the evidence showed economic migrants "add to the wellness of society" in fiscal terms.

"I do accept there are social implications. I accept that public services, schools, hospitals, housing, have to be available to deal with the scale of economic migration," he said.

"But economic migration is positive for society and positive for the economy."


Elsewhere, the SNP said Ms May's "dog-whistle rhetoric"was aimed at a "Ukip audience".

“It was about as inflammatory and divisive a speech a home secretary could make," SNP immigration spokesman Stuart McDonald said.

The MP added: "Theresa May’s whole approach to her job is to pull up the drawbridge and put her fingers in her ears – deliberately conflating immigration with asylum and completely ignoring the evidence."