WATCH: Michael Fallon says Tory immigration target is an 'aim' not a 'policy'
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has attempted to play down expectations that the Government will cut net migration to the tens of thousands - just hours after it was included in the Conservative manifesto.
In an excruciating TV interview, Mr Fallon repeatedly refused to say the pledge was a "policy". Instead, he would only say it was an "aim".
Adding to the confusion, the senior Tory was also unable to say if the Government knew how much reducing immigration would cost the Treasury.
The admission followed the revelation by George Osborne that none of Theresa May's senior ministers support her net migration policy.
The Tories included the pledge to bring net migration down to less than 100,000 in their 2010 and 2015 manifestos, but have come nowhere near meeting it. The most recent data put the figure at 273,000.
Mr Fallon's embarrassing ordeal was broadcast last night on BBC2's Newsnight programme.
Presenter Evan Davis asked the minister: "It is a policy to get immigration down to tens of thousands isn't it, or is it not?"
Mr Fallon replied: "It's our ambition to get it down to the tens of thousands. It's an ambition and we've had it in previous manifestos."
He added: "It is an aim and we intend to continue to aim to reduce the level of immigration."
Watch the full exchange here:
Asked how much the Government's immigration plans would cost the Treasury, Mr Fallon said: "We haven't set out a formulation of how much it'll reduce by each year, what we've set out is our ambition to continue to bear down on immigration."