PM has not seen ‘rejected’ Home Office emergency migration brake paper — No 10

The plans designed to curb the numbers arriving into the UK were reportedly dismissed by former prime minister Liz Truss.

Rishi Sunak is unaware of Home Office emergency brake proposals on migration which were reportedly rejected by his predecessor, No 10 has suggested.

The Sun reported that the Home Office had drawn up a policy document which suggested ministers could cap entry visas, raise fees and increase salary thresholds in a bid to meet the Conservative 2019 manifesto pledge to reduce overall migration.

The newspaper said it was former prime minister Liz Truss who rejected the proposals.

Downing Street, asked whether Mr Sunak could revisit the measures, said the Prime Minister had “introduced the toughest ever action” to curb the numbers of people legally arriving into Britain.

Net migration into the UK hit a new record high of 606,000 last year, driven by people from non-European Union countries arriving for work, study and humanitarian reasons.

In anticipation of the new figures, Mr Sunak’s administration announced restrictions on most overseas students being able to bring their families and other dependents over to the UK with them as a way of cutting the numbers.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman pointed out that it was not Mr Sunak who dismissed the so-called emergency brake.

The No 10 official, asked what Mr Sunak thought about the proposals, said: “I’m not sure he has seen proposals from under a previous prime minister.

“For his part, he looked at the issue of net migration and introduced the toughest ever action to reduce migration by removing the right for most international students to bring family members.

“We think the plan that we introduced struck the right balance between significantly reducing net migration numbers but also ensuring we can grow our economy.”

Murdoch annual party
Former prime minister Liz Truss reportedly rejected the Home Office’s emergency brake proposals (Victoria Jones/PA)

A Whitehall source, quoted by The Sun, said the emergency brake was “just sitting there gathering dust”.

“The Treasury had kittens about it but if ministers actually wanted to get the numbers down, here is how they could,” the source told the newspaper.

Home Office Suella Braverman announced in May that new restrictions would be applied to international students studying in the UK.

Due to be applied from January, the measures will ban overseas students, apart from postgraduates on research programmes, from obtaining visas for their dependents.

Some 136,000 visas were granted to dependants of sponsored students in 2022, an increase from 16,000 in 2019 when the Tory election manifesto committed the party to reducing net migration by using post-Brexit controls.

Following the UK’s divorce from Brussels, Britain is able to set its own migration policy, with free movement with the EU ended.

The emergency brake reports come after a group of right-wing Tory MPs put forward proposals designed to assist the Government in meeting its manifesto pledge on migration.

The New Conservatives, made up of MPs elected since the Brexit vote and backed by party deputy chairman Lee Anderson, recommended ministers close temporary visa schemes for care workers and cap the number of refugees resettling in the UK at 20,000.

Separately, Mr Sunak’s administration is looking to crack down on the numbers of people arriving in Britain through unauthorised routes using its Illegal Migration Bill.

The flagship legislation, which is designed to address the crisis of small boats of migrants crossing the English Channel, is due back in the Commons on Tuesday following its mauling by peers in the House of Lords.

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