Ruth Davidson urges Theresa May to drop Government’s net migration targets
Ruth Davidson has called on Theresa May to ditch the Government’s aim of reducing net migration to below 100,000.
And in a direct challenge to the Prime Minister, the Scottish Tory leader has said foreign students must be removed from the calculations.
In a speech at the University of Glasgow this afternoon, she argued that a changing economic picture should prompt a review of the figures.
“I have said this before but I will repeat it tonight: I see neither the sense nor the need to stick to an immigration figure devised nearly a decade ago, which has never been met and does not fit the requirements of the country”, she said.
“Setting an immigration target reduced to tens of thousands is one thing when unemployment is running at 8%. Refusing to review it when the country nears full employment and sectors are reporting skills shortages is quite another.
“Even if that target were to stay, I see no reason why overseas students should be included within the numbers counted.”
The 100,000 target was set by David Cameron in his 2010 manifesto as he pledged to get migration down to "tens of thousands, not hundreds of thousands".
But successive Governments have failed to hit the target with the most recent figures from February showing net migration from the EU and the rest of the world at 244,000.
The popular Tory figure – who has recently been touted as a potential future Prime Minister - also took the opportunity to join the growing chorus of Conservatives urging the party to ditch further tax breaks in exchange for improved NHS spending.
She said: “the simple choice is this: if we want to continue to adhere to the principles of our NHS – then we need to find extra funding above and beyond the increases of recent years.”
“I very much support the proposal for substantial extra funding across the whole of the UK to put the NHS on a firm and solid footing for the long term.”
“My view is this: the UK Government has acted to reduce the tax burden on working families. It has honoured its promise to do so. Raising the income tax threshold has reduced taxes for millions of UK workers and has taken thousands out of taxation altogether.
“But the UK government has a choice to make. And, if that choice is between extra spending on the NHS or introducing further tax breaks beyond those already promised, I choose the NHS.”